The two deaths last night (Thursday) on the A417 at Nettleton Bottom just outside Gloucester are yet another tragic reminder that we must have some urgent action to expedite making this road safer.
Only a few weeks ago when I held a Business West MPs question and answer event at Upton St Leonards, Cheltenham’s MP, Alex Chalk said that the three schemes under consideration to make the road safer were going out for consultation this month and he expected “spades in the ground” in 2020 but more realistically in 2021.
I wrote at the time that we should not hold our breath.
The delays at both council and government level in solving the safety problem of the so-called “Missing Link” have been disgraceful. Time and again, money to fund the road works have not appeared on Highways England’s priority road plan.
Since I came to Gloucester 16 years ago to edit The Citizen, myself and editors of the Echo, have been constantly campaigning to convince government that action has to be taken to improve safety on this death trap road. I am a hayfever sufferer. In the Summer driving down Crickley Hill where there is no central reservation one sneeze and you could be dead in a collision. The same is true with very bright sunlight as there is today.
For business, the huge queues which build up coming into Gloucester down Crickley Hill must cost thousands of pounds in lost work time every week.
In the past, we have been shown grandiose schemes to improve the road like a tunnel which even when mooted some years ago had a price tag of over £300million. My understanding is that the favourite, most cost effective plan now will at today’s costs be around £150 million and involve a huge roundabout section.
The sooner this consultation is sorted the better before more lives are lost. It is no use the environmental lobby throwing in the natural beauty argument.
Life and death on this terrible road are more important to us all.