A proposal by the Highways Agency to change the junction lay out at the notorious Air Balloon roundabout has provoked an outcry from local residents. Gloucestershire County Council has confirmed it supports a trial change and is part funding it.
A combination of air pollution and gridlocked traffic has prompted the Agency to come up with an ‘experimental layout change’ at the junction. The change would mean that traffic coming from the Cirencester and Swindon directions will only be able to turn left to Gloucester, with barriers preventing it going to the Leckhampton Hill and A436 exits.
Cars coming from the Gloucester direction will have free unimpeded access onto the roundabout, meaning that it will be free flowing. The experiment is understood to last for 6 months.
Many local residents have reacted to the news with dismay. Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley) has received over 100 emails and letters from people opposed to the scheme, “It’s been incredibly difficult getting hold of the Highways Agency to let them know the depth of feeling about this proposal. However, I’m due to speak to them shortly to let them know how people feel.”
“The cost of this experimental scheme will be £100,000 but from the HA’s own modelling air pollution will only show a slight decrease whilst CO2 emissions will rise along with journey times on other roads. All this for a projected saving of just 1 or 2 minutes for those using the A417!”
Nigel Robbins, road safety campaigner and ex principal of Cirencester College, is concerned about the impact on nearby villages, “This proposal – if it goes ahead – will lead to drivers using villages like Elkstone, Birdlip, Coberley and Winstone as rat runs to get to their destination. Traffic trying to get out of the A436 onto the roundabout will also cause longer tailbacks.”
We will keep you updated on the latest developments on this issue.