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A MULTI-million pound project to upgrade one of Worcester's busiest roads is essential, a council boss has said.

Work on the £8 million improvement project on the A440 Southern Link Road, which will eventually see it dual tracked, began a month ago.

The 12-month scheme will see the Ketch roundabout upgraded along with the road towards the Norton roundabout dual tracked in a bid to cut congestion and improve journey times on a route which carries more 30,000 vehicles each weekday.

Worcestershire County Council says travel time between the Powick to Whittington section of the route currently takes around 13 and-a-half minutes during the morning rush-hour.

"Work has progressed well over the first few weeks on this important project - the first phase of a clear vision we have," said Cllr Simon Geraghty, Worcestershire County Council's deputy leader Cllr Simon Geraghty.

"More than 30,000 vehicles use the A4440 every weekday and the situation will get worse over the coming years if nothing is done.

"This first stage will bring immediate benefits but also forms part of our wider plan to ensure the area is 'Open for Business'.

"Everything is being done to keep disruption to an absolute minimum and I'd like to thank people for their patience. It's very much appreciated."

So far, contractors have completed the excavation, removal and surfacing of the Ketch roundabout.

The next phases will include drainage works and earth works to prepare for the construction later this year.

Overnight closures are planned next Monday and Tuesday (June 9 and 10).

Originally built in the 1980s, the Southern Link Road is one of the most heavily used roads in Worcestershire.

The council says that a predicted growth in travel could see a 30 - 40 per cent increase in journey times by 2026 should no improvement work be done.

Anyone wanting further information should visit worcestershire.gov.uk/ketch