The Secretary of State for Transport has granted development consent for the A417 'Missing Link' in Gloucestershire, which will see the current single-lane carriageway between the Brockworth bypass and Cowley roundabout near Birdlip upgraded to a much-needed dual carriageway.
The scheme would create what the Department for Transport describes as a 'new rural all-purpose dual carriageway', connecting two existing stretches of arterial dual carriageway in the county.
Plans include new junctions at Cowley roundabout, Shab Hill and Ullenwood, connecting to the A436 and Leckhampton Hill; a diversion of the Cotswold Way via a new overbridge; a diversion of the Gloucestershire Way via a wildlife crossing bridge; and new overbridges at Cowley and Stockwell.
The 'Missing Link' would reduce journey times in and out of Gloucestershire towards Oxford, Swindon and the M4/M5, with hopes that it will also reduce traffic congestion, remove a deadly accident blackspot and help unlock Gloucestershire's economic potential.
A planning application for the scheme was submitted in June 2021; the examination began in November 2021; Kier Highways was awarded the £460 million contract to design and deliver the upgrade in April 2022; and the examination concluded in May 2022, with recommendations made to the Secretary of State in August 2022.
Councillor David Gray, cabinet member responsible for the environment at Gloucestershire County Council, said: 'We’re delighted that the Transport Minister has approved plans for the A417 Missing Link and are looking forward to work starting on site in 2023.
'The improvements will bring significant benefits to the local area, including improved safety, reduced delays and economic growth.
'The council will continue to work alongside National Highways throughout the build process.'
Leader of Tewkesbury Borough Council, councillor Rob Bird, added: 'I'm delighted that the government has given the go-ahead to this long-awaited infrastructure and has approved much-needed funding.
'Connecting the two dual-carriageway sections will not only provide a welcome boost to the local economy, but will also improve the quality of life for residents in the area by reducing congestion and improving air quality.'
It's not yet clear exactly when work will start on the project, but National Highways says construction will begin in 2023 and be completed by early 2027.