Britain to get second tolled motorway, but AA warns cost could put drivers off using it
08:33 GMT, 2 April 2013
08:33 GMT, 2 April 2013
Government plans for another tolled motorway could backfire, the AA warned today.
It is thought that Chancellor George Osborne will announce a new 14-mile M4 relief road near Newport in South Wales on which drivers might pay a toll.
It would follow the lead of the 27-mile
M6 toll road, which opened in 2002 to ease congestion around Birmingham. On weekdays, cars pay 5.50 and lorries 11 to use
A new relief road in Wales could became the second toll motorway in Britain after the M6, pictured
The M4 plan is believed to be part of a major road announcement by Mr Osborne in his spending review in June.
Funding for the construction of the
14-mile M4 relief road, intended to tackle congestion around Newport,
will be guaranteed by the Treasury. The Welsh government will repay the
loan by charging drivers to use it.
AA president Edmund King said that M4 improvements were welcome but introducing tolls could deter motorists.
He said: 'We have seen with the M6 Toll that drivers can be turned off by the imposition of charges.
'There is already a toll to get into
Wales on the Severn Crossing but no toll to get out. There is no doubt
that the M4 around Newport needs improving. At the moment if there is a
bad accident and the road is closed there is no real alternative for
George Osborne announced 3billion extra a year in infrastructure spending in last month's Budget
'But if the road is tolled it reduced
its economic effectiveness as a lot of people will be put off using it
and will simply avoid it.'
The Chancellor announced an extra
3billion a year in infrastructure spending in last month's Budget. A
government source told the Times: 'This kind of big investment project
shows that we're serious about spending on infrastructure and helping
the whole country.'
The plans for a relief road between
junctions 23 and 29 of the M4 were first proposed in 2004 and it was due
to open this year, but the scheme was scrapped in 2009 after its cost
rose to 1billion from its original 350million.
Financial Times journalist Mickey
Clarke told BBC Radio Wales today: 'It's worth pointing out though that
the M6 Toll in the Midlands hasn't ever made any money. People won't pay
it. That's the trouble.'
The plans for the road were
criticised in 2007 by the Gwent Wildlife Trust, which was concerned
about potential damage to the wetlands which are home to rare plants,
otters and birds.
Other schemes Mr Osborne is looking at include improvements to the A303 – the road that passes Stonehenge in Wiltshire.
Other projects may include making all the section of the A1 north of Newcastle dual carriageway and improvements to the A47 in Norfolk.
Mr King said: 'Bits of the A1 north of Newcastle are dual carriageway and bits are single carriageway. It certainly needs dualling although the Highways Agency has pointed out that traffic flows are far less heavy than those south of Newcastle.
'The A47 in Norfolk is an accident black spot so improvements there would be welcome.'