A LONG-awaited scheme to tackle congestion at one of Gloucestershire’s worst traffic blackspots has been approved for a £460 million upgrade by the transport minister.
Often referred to as the ‘missing link’ scheme, the upgrade will include the widening of the single-carriageway stretch between Birdlip and Cowley. When complete this will mean there will be dual carriageway linking the M4 to the M5.
Traffic build up created by the single carriageway stretch has for many years had a knock on effect on the Cirencester area, with drivers using village roads as ‘rat runs’ to avoid heavy traffic and long delays.
The scheme’s approval has been welcomed in Cirencester, with county councillor Paul Hodgkinson (Lib Dem, Cotswold: Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach) describing it as ‘good news for the Cotswolds’.
“I’m delighted that at long last we are going to get a solution to the severe problems of gridlock, air pollution and accidents at this black spot,” he said.
“With my colleagues we have lobbied hard for this to happen and I know that local residents are relieved to hear that construction will start next year.
“This has been a long time coming but it’s good news for the Cotswolds.”
Cirencester Town councillor Nigel Robbins (Lib Dem, Beeches Ward) agreed that the plans would have a positive impact on the area, but he also voiced a couple of concerns.
“It will be a great boon to people who work in the north and west, and to families travelling there to spend time away,” he said.
“But, of course, traffic will increase.
“Unless Highways England take a grip of proper noise abatement measures – acoustic barriers and speed limits to reduce noise and pollution – these problems, already serious, will become acute for Cirencester and the rest of the AONB.”
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP said: “This is fantastic news for the people of Gloucestershire and more nationally, when complete there will be a dual carriageway linking the M4 to the M5 this will mean faster and more predictable journeys avoiding the twice daily queues.
“It will bring growth and investment to Gloucestershire, more jobs, less environmental damage from stationary cars, and it will improve safety.
“The old road will be dedicated to walking, cycling, and riding.”