Loop road plan to bypass A417 'missing link' blackspot

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Media captionProposed 'missing link' A417 road options in Gloucestershire unveiled

A public consultation has begun into plans to improve a notorious accident blackspot known as the "missing link".

The A417 dual carriageway runs between Gloucester, Cirencester and Swindon and bottlenecks at the Air Balloon roundabout near Birdlip.

There have been a number of fatal crashes where it becomes a single lane, which has led to repeated calls from campaigners for a bypass to be built.

Highways England has now unveiled two options for a new route.

Image copyright Highways England
Image caption Part of the A417 at the Air Balloon roundabout near Birdlip is a notorious bottleneck for traffic

The route has previously been described as one of the "worst pinch-points" on the national road network.

In 2014, it was reported there had been 340 casualties on the road in 15 years.

Image copyright Highways England
Image caption One option is for a new four mile road near to Birdlip

Around 34,000 vehicles use the road daily and traffic regularly builds up on the single carriageway section from Birdlip, through Nettleton Bottom, to Cowley.

Both Highways England proposals include building a loop road and reusing some sections of the existing A417, at a cost of between £465m and £485m.

Image copyright Highways England
Image caption The second option is for a 3.4 mile-long surface route and a link to the existing A417

Work on the scheme is expected to take place in the government's next road investment period between 2020 and 2025.

The consultation, which includes a series of events at various venues, will end on 29 March.

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