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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Too high a price

Peter Hain's advocacy of a toll road to relieve the M4 around Newport met with a frosty reception in the Assembly where private finance initiatives are not flavour of the month. I suspect that it will also attract resistance from anti-road campaigners as well, concerned at the loss of five SSSIs and the disruption to several communities. The problem with new roads is that they fill up with vehicles very quickly and then attract demands for more new roads to relieve them of congestion. I can remember when the M25 was relatively quiet, now they are extending parts of it into 5 or 6 lanes. I can also remember the joy of using the link road from junction 33 of the M4 to Cardiff Bay before it became jam packed with commuters. When the former Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan, was given the freedom of Swansea City he told us about his involvement with the old Briton Ferry bridge on the A48. When that was opened, he said, engineers were predicting that it would meet the traffic needs of South West Wales well into the twenty first century. Within a decade it was a major bottleneck and the M4 missing link was being planned. Clearly, our senior politicians learn nothing from history.

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