ROAD safety experts are joining the county’s calls for a solution to the A417 Missing Link – the site of more than 340 casualties in the past 15 years.
The 5km stretch of single carriageway, maintained by the Highways Agency, has long been considered an accident blackspot.
With more than 34,000 vehicles using the route a day, it is a significant bottleneck and has the worst average vehicle delay of all strategic routes in the south west.
Gloucestershire County Council launched a campaign in January to encourage residents and businesses to back the A417 Loop – the only workable solution to the problem.
We want to ensure the £255 million project is added to the Government’s list of future road schemes and, since launch, more than 3,350 pledges of support have been received from residents and businesses.
As well as an answer to the hundreds of lost business hours and the knock-on effect on the Gloucestershire economy, the Loop would seek to improve the road’s safety record with a number of highways improvements, from a new bypass of Nettleton Bottom to an additional dual carriageway down Crickley Hill.
Since 1998, there have been 39 serious injuries and eight deaths on the stretch of road, and the number of collisions on the 5km length of the A417 represent half of the collisions on the whole of the A417/A419 network within the county.
Lorry breakdowns including engine and brake fires elsewhere on the route often start on the missing link, where vehicles have been forced to queue for a long period.
The 2003 study also highlighted the A417/B4070 Birdlip junction as a particular problem for right-turning traffic on to the major road, with a number of accidents and near misses resulting from this part of the link.
Garry Handley, Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership manager, said safety on this stretch of road has been the subject of debate for a number of years.
“Although the road is only as safe as the people who use it and some improvements have been made, many people still feel that there is something inherently wrong with the road itself,” he said.
“Improvements to this stretch would bring huge economic and social benefits as it is part of a strategic route and used by about 1,500 vehicles every hour.”
“The safety benefits of being able to use a road that is designed and built to accommodate this volume and mix of traffic, as well as coping with the gradient of the escarpment and the junctions, are obvious.”
Business owners and commuters are urged to show their support for the A417 Loop by signing up and pledging their backing at www.a417missinglink.co.uk or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow twitter account @A417Loop or visit Facebook page www.facebook.com/A417Loop