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Kier has been awarded the £460m contract to design and deliver an upgrade to the A417 between Gloucester and Swindon.

The contract award follows a competitive procurement process through National Highways’ Regional Delivery Partnership framework.

The A417/A419 provides an important route between Gloucester and Swindon that helps connect the Midlands/North to the South of England as an alternative to the M5/M4 route via Bristol.

However, the road has a ‘Missing Link’ – a three-mile stretch of single-lane carriageway on the A417 between the Brockworth bypass and Cowley roundabout in Gloucestershire. This ‘Missing Link’ causes many problems for road users and those who live or work in the area; congestion can be frequent and unpredictable, so some motorists divert onto local roads to avoid tailbacks.

This causes difficulties for neighbouring communities and local roads were not built to accommodate so much traffic. Poor visibility and other factors also mean that accidents, many of which are serious, occur frequently along this section of road.

Work to improve this section of the A417 with a scheme includes:

  • 4 miles of new dual carriageway connecting the existing A417 Brockworth bypass with the existing A417 dual carriageway south of Cowley
  • the section to the west of the existing Air Balloon roundabout would follow the existing A417 corridor. However, the section to the south and east of the Air Balloon roundabout would be offline, away from the existing road corridor
  • a new junction at Shab Hill, providing a link from the A417 to the A436 towards Oxford and into Birdlip
  • a new junction would be included near Cowley, replacing the existing Cowley roundabout
  • the existing A417 between the Air Balloon roundabout and the Cowley roundabout would be repurposed, with some lengths of this existing road converted into a route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, while retaining other sections to maintain local access for residents.

Meanwhile, new habitats and habitat connections for native wildlife including bats, bees, badgers, etc will be created.

Kier’s team will include Volker, Arup, Tony Gee and RPS to prepare for and construct the 3.4-mile route.

Michael Goddard, Project Director for the A417, said: “We are delighted to be working with Kier to move forward this vital scheme.

“Kier has an extensive track record working with National Highways and delivering large scale infrastructure projects, so we are confident they will deliver a scheme that meets our landscape-led vision. We will work together to deliver a project that is sympathetic with the special character of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and will support economic growth, improve traffic flows at peak times and make the road safer.”

Paul Baker, Kier Highways project director, said: “Delivering highways infrastructure which is vital to the UK is Kier Highways’ purpose and we are proud to be doing this through the delivery of the A417 contract. We look forward to working with National Highways and our supply chain partners to deliver this vitally important infrastructure project to improve the connectivity of the strategic road network.

“We are a national business with a local focus and throughout the duration of the project, we will support the local community through employment opportunities and social value initiatives that leave a positive legacy.”

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