Two items on the BBC news last night (4th Feb 2014) about roads.
The first, on the national news, was talking about damage the weather is causing to roads and shortage of funds to repair them. The report even went as far as saying councils may end up having to close rural roads due to having no money to repair them.
After that, the local news (Wales Today) was reporting an accident on the M4 near Brynglas tunnels. Statements followed from users of the M4 calling for a relief road to be built urgently. The Welsh Government’s recently proposed second motorway round Newport was mentioned, with a price tag of around £1bn. In my opinion, that would be yet another inexcusable misuse of public money, encouraging use of modes of transport (car and lorry) which we are supposed to be moving away from in attempts to put a stop to climate change.
Meanwhile, one of the Welsh Government’s pet transport schemes, adding a fourth lane to parts of the heads of the valleys A-road to make it completely dual-carriageway (at a cost of at least £600m), is still going on. Elsewhere, there are plans to accelerate A-roads in Pembrokeshire, including building miles of brand new road from St. Clears to Red Roses on the route to Pembroke Dock. Paul Davies, AM for north Pembrokeshire, is even calling for converting the A40 from St. Clears to Haverfordwest to dual carriageway. Such schemes are just going to magnify the time advantage road has over rail in south-west Wales (more on that in a future post), encouraging more car use and less train travel.
Returning to that first news item, shortage of money is threatening closure of existing roads which the councils cannot afford to repair. If we don’t have enough money to maintain the existing road network, why are our elected leaders so keen on throwing money at new roads to encourage, and provide for, increased car use? Scrap the second M4 proposal, axe the heads of the valleys dualing project, forget the proposed new St. Clears – Red Roses route and don’t let Mr Davies get his A40 dualing proposal off the ground. Then, divert all that money (or some of it, with the rest used for public transport or moved away from transport altogether) to maintaining our existing road network.