A crucial step has been taken towards securing a permanent fix for Gloucestershire’s notorious A417 Missing Link.
The Highways Agency has included the 5km stretch of single-carriageway between Cowley roundabout and Brockworth on a list of routes in the South West in need of improvement.
It comes after the Echo launched a campaign calling for the county to unite behind proposals for dual carriageway bypass the A417 Loop to be built in place of the bottleneck, which is the site of numerous accidents and daily tailbacks.
Today’s announcement means the first hurdle towards achieving £255 million in Government funding for the replacement road has been successfully negotiated.
County council leader councillor Mark Hawthorne, said: “I’m delighted that the Highways Agency has recognised just how important it is that a solution is found to the problem of the Missing Link.
“We know from the overwhelming support people and businesses have given to the Loop that this is a major issue, not just in the county but in the entire region.”
More than 4,600 people have put their name to an online petition calling for the A417 Loop to go ahead, including political and business heavyweights.
However, Mr Hawthorne urged people to continue to pledge support for the campaign until funding was secured, with an announcement on that expected in Spring next year.
He added: “There is still a long way to go to get Government support for the scheme and I would urge anyone who has ever used the road to make their voice heard by pledging online.”
A report released by the Highways Agency recognises the troublesome stretch of road is challenged due to capacity, safety and environmental issues.
It also recommends a review of fatal collisions on the route to better understand the need for change.
The route has an appalling safety record with more than 340 casualties from incidents over the past 15 years.
Only last week, a 67-year-old woman died following a head-on collision on April 20 between the Air Balloon roundabout and the Birdlip turnoff.
The release of the report was hailed as positive news across the county’s political spectrum.
Councillor Colin Hay, leader of the county’s Liberal Democrat group, said: “It’s great news that the Highways Agency is recognising this piece of work as important.
“They’ve clearly heard the voices of local people, not just for road safety, but for helping businesses as well.”
Councillor Lesley Williams, the county’s Labour leader, said: “It is positive news. I hope the Government will now listen to Gloucestershire residents and the Highways Agency and provide the funding for the scheme.”
And councillor Alan Preest, leader of UKIP group at the county council, added that he was “one hundred per cent behind” growing calls for the A417 Loop.
To pledge support for the A417 Loop campaign go to www.a417missinglink.co.uk