Diggers move in near Air Balloon roundabout for huge road project
The lush green grass of the Cotswolds is being torn up as preparatory work continues on the A417 Missing Link project near the Air Balloon roundabout. Motorists and ramblers have seen diggers removing top soil along the A435 close to Crickley Hill.
Some may also have wondered why a kite in the shape of a hawk is flying over the site. National Highways has said this is to stop skylarks from landing.
As well as work by Crickely Hill, there is also work going on at the Fly-up 417 Bike Park. All of this activity linked to work starting in the autumn.
National Highways said: "Our team of archaeologists are currently working at six locations in the area, and since the end of February, have removed approximately 8,000 cubic metres of soil in their search for historical features and artefacts that can tell us more about the area and the people that once lived there.
"We’ve also got ecologists on site who have been prepping archaeological research areas before work starts, for example putting up retile fencing to keep them away from work areas, checking for ground nesting birds and installing kite hawks to discourage skylarks from landing on site. These measures are ensuring local wildlife is protected."
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The new Missing Link road is scheduled to be completed by early 2027 and is budgeted to cost around £460m. It will provide a dual-carriageway to replace the single carriageway stretch between the Air Balloon and Cowley roundabouts.
The completed project will see a full dual-carriageway route from the M5 at Brockworth to the M4 in Swindon. Parts of the existing A417 by Birdlip will be repurposed as a countryside route for walkers, horse-riders and cyclists.
New bridges will be built for walkers and new junctions will replace the need for through traffic to use the existing roundabouts. The A417 Crickley Hill stretch will also have its gradient reduced and a third 'crawler' lane for lorries going up the hill.
- ^ Cotswolds (www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk)
- ^ National Highways (www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk)
- ^ A417 Missing Link new timeline chart as work begins ahead of main construction phase (www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk)
- ^ National Highways (nationalhighways.co.uk)