LEADERS at GFirst in Gloucestershire say the organisation has staked its reputation on the push to overhaul the A417 Missing Link.
The Citizen has launched a campaign to Fill the Missing Link, urging people across the county to support plans to replace the accident-prone stretch of single carriageway between Cowley roundabout and Brockworth with a £250million dual carriageway bypass.
Dubbed the A417 Loop, it would alleviate delays at the notorious bottleneck.
GFirst, the county’s Local Enterprise Partnership, has lobbied the Government for improvements to the stretch, which they say is hampering economic growth.
Mark Ryan, chairman of the transport and logistics sector group for Gfirst, and managing director at Gloucestershire Airport, said he did not want the organisation to be seen as a mere talking shop.
“I think there is a lot of mounting pressure that will get it back on the agenda,” he said. “I think we are almost there.
“If you want to grow the infrastructure of the county and that is what you ask the LEP to do, and if they don’t listen then are we just another voice?”
As well as the route’s poor safety record, it has the worst average vehicle delay of all strategic routes in the South West.
Business leaders say they are badly affected by delays and unreliable deliveries.
Doing something to improve the situation is listed as a priority on GFirst’s draft Strategic Economic Plan which was submitted to the Government last month.
GFirst chairman Diane Savory contacted the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin MP to ask for funding to be made available in the next spending review period.
And last week leaders at the group raised the matter with Greg Clark, Minister of State for Cities and Constitution, and Lord Heseltine.
David Owen, chief executive of GFirst, said the route was the gateway to the region’s £1billion a year tourist industry.
He said: “The Missing Link on the A417 is of crucial importance to the economy of Gloucestershire and a number of neighbouring areas, as it provides connectivity to local, national and international markets and is a major strategic route from the Midlands to London, Thames Valley, key airports and the south coast ports.
“It is also a major tourist route gateway to the Cotswolds, Cheltenham and Gloucester, and the Forest of Dean that already attracts around two million tourists spending over £1bn every year. The missing link is regarded by businesses as hampering economic growth across the region.”
There is a one-off window of opportunity to campaign for the A417 Loop as the solution to the problem between now and the end of March, when Government ministers will decide on their next round of major road improvement schemes.
Over the next 10 weeks we are urging people to help the county seize its chance by supporting the campaign. To add your name go to a417missinglink.co.uk