Nettleton Bottom. Gloucestershire’s A417 missing link

Birdlip Roundabout

Birdlip Roundabout - Credit: Archant

The campaign for a £250 million scheme to widen the three miles ‘missing link’ stretch of single carriageway on the A417 between the Air Balloon pub and Nettleton bottom is gathering momentum.

Mike Hesketh

Mike Hesketh - Credit: Archant

Launched in January by Gloucestershire County Council leader Mark Hawthorne, the A417 campaign is attracting local business and community leaders to present a united front to Whitehall and Westminster.

Hawthorne said: “For more than 20 years people have talked about a possible solution but it’s only ever been talk up to this point, without the money to see it through.”

The missing link is a significant bottleneck and has the worst average vehicle delay of all strategic routes in the South West carrying more than 34,000 vehicles with more than 340 casualties in the past 15 years. It is also the only single carriageway stretch of main road on the 500 mile trip from Glasgow to Dover.

Mark Owen, Chairman FSB Gloucestershire and West of England Region, said: “If you look at how the French, Swiss, Germans and Italians have tamed the mighty Alps with gravity defying roads, bridges and tunnels, we should hang our collective heads in shame over the Nettleton Bottom fiasco. I suspect that if Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Thomas Telford were alive today they could knock out a viable Nettleton Bottom scheme on the back of a fag packet.

“At the end of the day it comes down to expense. We just need the powers that be to bite the bullet and get on with it.”

Andrew Ford is transport manager and a partner in Gloucester based Herbert Davis Removals and Storage, a well-known firm established in 1919, which makes frequent trips to and from London, the South East and even the continent. He said: “We find the delays on the Nettleton Bottom stretch frustrating, especially on Thursdays and Fridays when the traffic is terrible and you can be stuck for three quarters of an hour or more. It seems totally crazy to have this tiny stretch of road remaining as single carriageway. The only real alternative is to take the A40 to Oxford and then get on the M40 although you still get a bit of a bottleneck at Oxford. We don’t really consider going down the M5 to join the M4 at the Almondsbury junction outside Bristol as it is so much longer.”

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Mike Hesketh is MD of Cotswold Printers, a Tewkesbury based firm that repairs and services office printers, which has customers across the UK, including many in London and the South East, and especially Cirencester and Swindon. He said: “Traffic delays cost money and adversely affects our customer satisfaction. If a van is stuck in traffic for hours you can’t pass that cost on the customer. There are ways of avoiding the A417 but this also takes more time and costs extra. It also puts an extra burden of traffic on any alternative route such as the A40 to Oxford, which has its own congestion problem at peak times.”

Secretary of State visit marks official start of landmark Oxford to London rail project

The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport, has marked the start of major work, just south of Bicester North station, on the Chiltern Railways Oxford to London Marylebone project, a landmark new rail route that will be the first to connect a major British city with London in over 100 years. Three quarters of a mile of new track will be laid allowing Chiltern trains from Oxford to join the mainline and run to London Marylebone.

Once completed, the project will provide Oxfordshire with a new rail route to London, improve services between Bicester and Oxford, and re-establish a direct rail link between Oxford and High Wycombe. The new line between Oxford and London Marylebone is planned to launch from Oxford Parkway in Summer 2015 and from Oxford city centre in Spring 2016.

Rob Brighouse, Managing Director of Chiltern Railways said: “Chiltern Railways has invested £130 million in our landmark Oxford to London Marylebone project that will deliver significant economic benefits for those living and working along the route and transform travel for people in Oxfordshire.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Our railways are a success story and we are building on that success through record levels of investment.”

Work on this project is a partnership between Network Rail and Chiltern Railways who are managing delivery of the project through the Bicester to Oxford Collaboration. Chiltern Railways has invested £130 million.


This article is from the May 2014 issue of Business & Professional Life