Leader of the County Council Liberal Democrats, Paul Hodgkinson, has today sent an open letter to the newly appointed Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP.
The letter requests the new Transport Secretary and the newly formed post-Referendum Government continue with the commitment shown by the previous Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP to fix the ‘Missing Link’ on the A417.
Cllr. Hodgkinson (Bourton and Northleach), who represents the area around the Air Balloon roundabout, said that:
“The ‘Missing Link’ has been a problem for Gloucestershire for more than 20 years. It is often very heavily congested seeing more than 34,000 vehicles a day and there are frequent tragic accidents with more than 340 casualties in the past 15 years.
“Local residents, campaigners and elected representatives have for decades been lobbying both local and national government to find a solution. It is well known for it being a significant bottleneck and has been found to have the worst average vehicle delay of all strategic routes in the South West.
The letter continued by saying that:
“Since the start of January 2014, I’ve been delighted to see support gathering pace for government to fund the £255 million A417 loop, which is undoubtedly the only viable option to fix the ‘Missing Link’.
“In April 2014, I was particularly pleased that support was given by the Highways Agency in recognising local concerns about the route following stakeholder events in the region and highlighting the issue in its route strategy.
In making reference to the support of the former Transport Secretary, Cllr. Hodgkinson also said:
“The former Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin MP visited the A417 ‘Missing Link’ two years ago on Wednesday 16th July 2014 and was extremely supportive of the scheme.
“Funding has been secured by Highways England (HE) for the next stage of the A417 ‘Missing Link’ scheme development, but there’s still along way to go. We would like you to be equally committed as your predecessor, if not more supportive and would very much like to see construction starting before Highways England’s issued timeline for the scheme development, which identifies that construction will not start until summer 2021.
“The Air Balloon roundabout, which is a key part of the missing link section, is forecasted to be running 30 per cent over capacity by 2026. Already the road is congested and dangerous and needless to say will be worse before the anticipated summer 2021 construction date.
Cllr. Hodgkinson in asking to reaffirm the new Transport Secretary’s funding commitment to the ‘Missing Link’ also offered an invitation to the Rt Hon Chris Grayling saying:
“I believe Highways England (HE) will be undertaking an engagement event in Autumn 2016 to explain what will happen next and we would be delighted if you could perhaps join us to show your support?