The A417 is a main road in England running from Streatley, Berkshire to Hope under Dinmore, Herefordshire. It is best known for its section between Cirencester and Gloucester where it has primary status and forms part of the link between the major settlements of Swindon and Gloucester.
When the A417 was first designated in 1922, it ran only from Streatley to Cirencester. In 1935 it was extended to Gloucester, on the former route of the A419, and on to Ledbury and Hope under Dinmore.
There have been numerous upgrades and bypasses, particularly on the primary section. At Faringdon, its traditional route over Folly Hill and down through the market place has been blocked by the more recent development of the A420 and has been diverted to the south. The Birdlip bypass, opened in 1988, avoided a very steep (16%) gradient as the road descended the Cotswold Edge escarpment to Brockworth.
It runs from Streatley at its junction with the A329 (between Reading and Wallingford) to Wantage, over the picturesque Berkshire Downs. In Wantage, it negotiates the market place (around King Alfred's statue and thence to Faringdon, via Stanford in the Vale. It leads on to Lechlade, where it crosses the River Thames. It then runs past the Cotswold Water Park, through Fairford to Cirencester and thence to Gloucester.
From the start of the Cirencester bypass to Gloucester, the A417 forms part of a major new dual-carriageway route (A419/A417) connecting the M4 (junction 15) with the M5 at Gloucester (junction 11A). At the A429 roundabout on the older Cirencester bypass, the A417 follows the A429 north for 0.5 miles (0.80 km), then resumes when it joins the newer bypass (which is also the A417). The 6-mile (9.7 km) Cirencester & Stratton Bypass opened on 9 December 1997. This route carries traffic between the ports of the south coast and the industrial Midlands. The 4-mile (6.4 km) dual-carriageway North of Stratton to Nettleton Improvement opened on 16 January 1998. The roundabout at the end of this section often has congestion during peak hours.
The 2-mile (3.2 km) £2.4m single-carriageway Birdlip bypass opened in December 1988. This point, before the Air Balloon roundabout, has a grand vista of the Severn Valley. After the roundabout and the Air Balloon pub, the road turns sharply and there is a steep gradient. This is a bottleneck at peak times, and there are plans for a dual-carriageway section here. These plans were listed within a roads expansion programme pledged during the government's 2014 Autumn Statement for delivery during the coming 5-8 years. A very rough googlemap of the 3 options proposed can be found here.
The 3-mile (4.8 km) £36m Brockworth Bypass opened in December 1995, and included the new junction 11a of the M5.
Through Gloucester, the road overlaps the A40 Gloucester northern bypass, and from the end of this bypass at a roundabout the road goes north-west through the village of Maisemore, past Hartpury College, then through the village of Hartpury. The A417 then passes through the twin villages of Corse and Staunton. It crosses the M50 Ross Spur motorway at junction 2, then meets the Ledbury bypass, where the road noticeably widens out, and has many large roundabouts. Between Gloucester and Ledbury there are many changes of speed limit. From Ledbury, it goes west, overlapping the A438, then at a set of traffic lights known as the Trumpet Crossroad, the A417 goes north-west along a more high-hedged, narrow road. It meets the A49 at a wide junction at Hope under Dinmore just south of Leominster.