Decided: This is the final plan to end the Air Balloon traffic nightmare in Gloucestershire

A solution to the “missing link” on the A417 through the Cotswolds has moved a major step forward with the announcement of a route for the long-awaited project.

The chosen option for the last stretch of single carriageway on the A417 east of Gloucester, between Brockworth and Cowley, will see a new section of road through Shab Hill.

It will be 3.4 miles in length and have a speed limit of 70mph, say project managers Highways England which received approval from the Government for the route, known as Option 30.

The congested Air Balloon and Cowley roundabouts will be removed, and as previously reported the Air Balloon pub will be demolished.

The announcement comes following a consultation which had almost 2,000 respondents. The other option, Option 12, would have been four miles in length and had a speed limit of 50mph.

Both Option 12 and Option are explained in the video above, with flypasts of the proposed routes.

The road upgrade will mean the A417/A419 will be dual carriageway all the way between the M5 at Gloucester and the M4 at Swindon.

Project managers Highways England hope money to fund it, with the project likely to be at least £500million, will come from a road investment strategy set to be announced by the Government later this year.

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The chosen solution for the Missing Link

Senior project manager Michael Goddard, said: “This scheme will bring a number of benefits to the area.

“Besides making journey times more reliable, reducing rat-running through neighbouring communities, it will also improve the lives of people who live close to the route and make it easier for drivers, walkers and other local road users to get around.  

“Improving this key road connection complements the landscape in this area, and also supports the predicted growth in jobs and housing in Gloucestershire.”

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Conservative MPs in the region today welcomed the news.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP for the Cotswolds, said: “This announcement that the Government has cleared the preferred route announcement is great news for all of us that use this road.

“It should reduce accidents, avoid congestion so improving the environment, and above all encourage more investment into Gloucestershire.

“However, this is only the beginning of the project and everyone will have to keep up the pressure to ensure that it is actually constructed.”

Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester, said: “The proposed changes to the A417 will make a huge difference to my constituents, and to all coming to Gloucester from the south – making our county a better place to live, work and visit.


“It’s the biggest and most important investment in Gloucester infrastructure by this government.”

The announcement has also been welcomed by other sides of the political spectrum.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, leader of Gloucester’s Liberal Democrats, said: “The section needs to be upgraded to a dual carraigeway and once built it should shorten travel times and make the route much safer for road users than today.”

The project has been on the table for many years.


Last year, following delays, the scheme was made a Tier 1 scheme which meant central government is taking a greater interest in the scheme development process.

The target for the completion of the highway is 2024.

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