Construction of the notorious ‘Missing Link’ at the Air Balloon roundabout is unlikely to start for another 5 years.
That’s the latest word from roads bosses who are managing the project.
In a letter to the Leader of Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Highways England have confirmed that the project is still ongoing despite changes in Government but that any hope of construction work starting soon has gone.
Cllr Hodgkinson (Bourton & Northleach) wrote to the new Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in July asking him to re-commit to the project following the Brexit vote. Mr Grayling didn’t answer himself but passed the letter to Highways England to respond.
Now, Cllr Hodgkinson (Bourton and Northleach), who represents the area around the Air Balloon roundabout on the A417, says he’s happy that the work is still planned but disappointed it is taking so long to happen:
“The ‘Missing Link’ has been a problem for our county for more than 20 years. It’s now heavily congested at all times of day. Recently we have seen weekly incidents including broken down lorries and yet more accidents.
“Whilst I’m glad that fixing this urgent problem is still on the agenda, the news that work won’t even start for another 5 years is frustrating. This road is a real drag on Gloucestershire’s economy.
“My other concern is that Highways England say in their letter that funding for all schemes is reviewed regularly. Does that mean the Government could pull the plug if it wanted to?
“I will keep the pressure up on the new Transport Minister. It’s a shame he hasn’t given his personal commitment to the scheme and has not responded to my request for him to visit and see the issues for himself.
Highways England are currently working to identify a number of different options to solve the issues on the A417. They say that they will be engaging with local people later this year.