The Blue route ‘solution’ would be worse for Newport than no change.
It would destroy the function of the Southern Distributor Road (SDR) by piling M4 traffic on to a route that’s already full to capacity at peak times. Worse would be that the SDR’s role to re-distribute traffic, east to west, north to south of city would be destroyed. How quickly we forget the chronic congestion that preceded the opening of the SDR in 2004. Routinely it took an hour at peak times to get from Lee Way to Bassaleg. It was bold decision by the Council to invest expensively in the SDR to tackle the certainty of approaching gridlock. It has worked but new bottlenecks have appeared since. The Blue (two route) scheme would bring back the pre-2004 congestion, which, with additional new problems, would make Newport a traffic hell of gridlock and pollution.
My involvement in this goes back to 1972. I served as Chair of Newport Public Works Committee and the Gwent Transport Committee and I was a member of the Highways Committee. The great error of those years was building an excessive number of junctions on the Newport M4. The city used them as routes across the city and added hugely to the motorway traffic. Very convenient, but it stopped the city tackling its own problems of internal traffic. There was only one solution. The SDR was planned in the 50s and land was set-aside for it. Its essential purpose has been met and its use cannot be restricted in any way without creating city chaos.
Annual deaths from air pollution UK 40,000, London 9,000, Newport 72. M4 Relief Road (black route) will disperse pollution and save lives. The promoter of the Blue route is a railway buff who dreams of moving people out of their cars and onto trains. A worthy aim but imposing misery on Newport cannot solve the problems of the planet. The Blue route is favoured by people from elsewhere in Wales who long to pick up the scraps if the black, three-route solution, is dumped. The Blue route is a gimcrack, patch-and-prop use of existing roads and traffic separation at roundabouts-all purposes for which the roads were never designed. Roundabout separation of traffic would be a nightmare of demolition and permanent disruption. The Black solution is tailor made for the acute problems that are with us now that will swiftly deteriorate with a mounting hell of gridlock and intensifying pollution.
It may appeal to politicians, ignorant of Gwent’s traffic crisis, as a convenient dodge or a political compromise. The Government will react to rejection of the Black Route by cancelling their permission to borrow the money. The funding will largely disappear. We heard the irritation from the Prime Minister last week because we in Wales have not ‘got on’ with the Black route. The funding is available at a time of austerity as a UK Motorway national priority-not as bag of cash to spent throughout Wales. It was a Plaid Cymru minister who sabotaged the funding the last time the relief road was planned. Party Political games must not wreck a solution that will bring traffic relief to two thirds of the Welsh economy and tourist trade and ease killer pollution.