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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Welsh Labour Ministers wasted £2.2m on failed traffic experiment

Wales on line reports that the experimental closure of junction 41 in Port Talbot and associated road works cost taxpayers £2.2 million.

The closure of this junction was designed to reduce congestion on the raised section of the M4 going through the town, but Welsh Government studies showed that at best it only knocked about 30 seconds off the journey.

In fact, as is obvious to those who use this stretch of the motorway regularly, the main cause of the congestion is the narrowing of the carriageway from three lanes to two with the result that traffic problems often stretch from Pyle at junction 37 to past the Llandarcy turn-off at junction 43.

The trial closure caused huge traffic problems in Port Talbot and surrounding communities and cost local traders a lot of money. It is only in the last few months that the Minister confirmed that it would not be repeated.

This is a huge waste of public money particularly as we are back at square one with no improvement to traffic flow on this section of the M4. In fact I would argue that the problems between junctions 37 and 43 are worse than those around Newport. 

The only reason why the Welsh Government is spending £1 billion on fixing the stretch of motorway in Gwent is because of the impact on Cardiff. As ever the stretch of motorway further west is a lower priority.

Did Ministers feel that they were able to experiment with the livelihood of local traders and residents only because of the fact that it had no consequences for the capital? I believe that it is not an experiment they would have tried anywhere else on the M4, least of all around Newport or Cardiff.
A little bird tells me that the Labour group controlling Neath Port Talbot council was in favour of the closure in order to divert motorists on to the southern distributor road, which does not appear to have achieved the traffic volumes it was designed for.
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