Construction of a new dual two-lane road to replace the existing A417 between the Brockworth Bypass, south of Cheltenham, and Cowley Roundabout. This is the last remaining section of single-carriageway road on the A417/A419 route between the M4 at Swindon and the M5 at Gloucester, which is otherwise a high speed expressway - hence the unusual name of this scheme.
The road between these points climbs steeply as it travels southwards, turning sharply at the Air Balloon roundabout and rising to the top of the Cotswold Escarpment. The difficulty of providing a high-speed dual carriageway in this terrain is the main reason why the "missing link" is the last part of the A417/A419 route to be completed.
Past proposals have included an on-line upgrade of the A417 and a lengthy bored tunnel, but the current proposals are for a surface-level dual carriageway running east of the existing road with substantial earthworks. This route has likely been chosen to reduce the overall cost of the scheme: the high cost of tunnelling would have made the work uneconomical for the benefits it would bring, and on-line widening works (especially in such challenging terrain) would also inflate costs.
The scheme, if approved, will necessitate the demolition of the Air Balloon pub which gives its name to the roundabout at the bottom of the hill.
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