A decision on the design of the A417 Missing Link will be made later this year.
National Highways has awarded a £460 million contract to Kier to design and deliver an upgrade to the A417 between Gloucester and Swindon.
There have long been calls to improve the often congested three-mile route between the Brockworth bypass and Cowley roundabout. Poor visibility means there have been regular accidents, with a knock-on effect on the local roads drivers often divert onto.
Kier and National Highways have now completed a budget setting process. The Planning Inspectorate is examining the Development Consent Order (DCO) application, which is needed for all Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects prior to construction.
Following the examination’s conclusion in May, the Planning Inspectorate will send its recommendation of a decision to the Secretary of State for Transport in the summer, with a decision on the route expected in the autumn.
Michael Goddard, project director, said: “We are delighted to be working with Kier to move forward this vital scheme.
“Kier has an extensive track record working with National Highways and delivering large scale infrastructure projects, so we are confident they will deliver a scheme that meets our landscape-led vision.
“We will work together to deliver a project that is sympathetic with the special character of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and will support economic growth, improve traffic flows at peak times and make the road safer.”
Paul Baker, Kier Highways project director, said: “Delivering highways infrastructure which is vital to the UK is Kier Highways’ purpose and we are proud to be doing this through the delivery of the A417 contract. We look forward to working with National Highways and our supply chain partners to deliver this vitally important infrastructure project to improve the connectivity of the strategic road network.
“We are a national business with a local focus and throughout the duration of the project, we will support the local community through employment opportunities and social value initiatives that leave a positive legacy.”
Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, added: “I’m really pleased we’ve reached this key stage of this vital project. After such a long wait, it really feels like the solution for the ‘Missing Link’ is much closer to becoming a reality.
“Completion will bring improved safety and air quality along with more reliable journey times leading to huge benefits for our county’s economy as well as creating new habitats and habitat connections for native wildlife.”
The A417 scheme will include:
•Four miles of new dual carriageway connecting the existing A417 Brockworth bypass with the existing A417 dual carriageway south of Cowley
•The section to the west of the existing Air Balloon roundabout would follow the existing A417 corridor. However, the section to the south and east of the Air Balloon roundabout would be offline, away from the existing road corridor
•A new junction at Shab Hill, providing a link from the A417 to the A436 towards Oxford and into Birdlip
•A new junction would be included near Cowley, replacing the existing Cowley roundabout
•The existing A417 between the Air Balloon roundabout and the Cowley roundabout would be repurposed, with some lengths of this existing road made into a route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, while retaining other sections to maintain local access for residents
There will also be habitats created for native wildlife including bats, bees and badgers.
Further information on the scheme can be found at nationalhighways.co.uk/our-work/south-west/a417-missing-link/#overview
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