A417 triple deaths: Renewed calls for urgent action

A crash site at the foot of Crickley Hill on the A417 A Cheltenham man, 54, and two elderly women from Wiltshire were killed in separate crashes on Monday

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Calls for urgent action on a notorious stretch of the A417 in Gloucestershire are being renewed after three deaths in two separate collisions on Monday.

The dual and single carriageway near Crickley Hill has been dubbed "the road to hell" by one Cotswolds councillor.

The county council's leader has written to the Secretary of State for Transport demanding a meeting.

The Highways Agency says it will work with local authorities to improve traffic conditions on the road.

'Dragged its heels'

The letter's author, Mark Hawthorne of Gloucestershire County Council, said the government must act to address the "dangerous" road.

"The Highways Agency has dragged its heels for too long. We need urgent action now to address this issue," he said.

The car in which two elderly women from Wiltshire were killed in a collision on the A417 Two women died several hours after a man was killed in a separate collision a few miles away

Two women from Wiltshire - an 84-year-old from Marlborough and a 91-year-old from Purton - and a 54-year-old man from Cheltenham were killed in two separate collisions on Monday.

The man's car collided with a lorry at the foot of Crickley Hill at about 03:10 GMT and, eight hours later, the two elderly women died after their car collided with an HGV on the same road near the B4070 junction.

The letter to the government has the support of two Gloucestershire Conservative MPs - Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswolds) and Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury).

'Nothing done'

Mr Clifton-Brown says he has campaigned since the 1990s for the Highways Agency to address the issues.

"How many more people have got to die before the government really sits up and takes notice," said Mr Clifton-Brown.

"The congestion and the tragedies of these deaths and injuries just shouldn't be allowed to continue."

The MP said "virtually nothing" had been done and it "wasn't good enough".

A crash site at the foot of Crickley Hill on the A417 Gloucestershire First claims the section of A417 is one of the worst pinch-points nationally

Last February new road layout plans was considered but dropped by the Highways Agency after the county council withdrew its support.

However the agency says it will continue to work with the council and other local authorities "on options to improve traffic and environmental conditions" on the A417.

According to Gloucestershire First, the county's local enterprise partnership, more than 33,000 vehicles use this section of the A417 every day - 14% of which are HGVs.

It claims this section of the road is one of the worst pinch-points on the national road network.

'Triple whammy'

Liberal Democrat councillor for the area, Paul Hodgkinson, says he has three issues with the A417 - air pollution, "terrible accident rates" and "dreadful congestion".

"It is what I would say is a triple whammy which leads me to call this road 'the road to hell'," he said.

"It's about time the Highways Agency really got its act together on this and took some urgent notice that something has to be done radically to change this area so that we get rid of the accidents, we get rid of the pollution and we get rid of the congestion once and for all."

It is a view that is shared by the county's police and crime commissioner, Martin Surl, who says careful thought is needed about the implications of doing nothing.

"Many point to the layout of the carriageway as a major contributory factor," he said.

"Numerous possible solutions have been put forward without getting the necessary backing from the relevant authorities."

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