Wednesday 26 November 2014

Rolled-chippings toll road opens

Published 02/08/2014 | 13:19

Mike Watts decided to open the thoroughfare to bypass a closed section of the A431 between Bath and Bristol.
Mike Watts decided to open the thoroughfare to bypass a closed section of the A431 between Bath and Bristol.

A temporary toll road made from rolled chippings has been opened in south west England.

Businessman Mike Watts decided to open the thoroughfare to bypass a closed section of the A431 between Bath and Bristol.

The Kelston Road was shut in February following a landslip and officials say it will not be repaired until the end of the year.

But a new makeshift road, which costs £2 a time to use, re-opens the important "back road" - which is used by commuters going between the two cities.

Local villagers in nearby Kelston have repeatedly criticised Bath & North East Somerset council for not re-opening the main road sooner and say it has caused major traffic problems in the area.

Mr Watts said his toll road will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with toll operators there all the time.

Drivers who will regularly use the route can bulk buy 12 toll passes for the price of ten.

However, officials say the road does not have planning permission or safety certificates.

Mr Watts told the Western Daily Press: "There will be some people who will be reluctant to pay the money but it is an option for people if they feel it will save them money in terms of the fuel costs and time.

"If people don't want to use the road then don't. The drive behind it is to get Bath and Bristol back on track because the impact is more far reaching than just the residents of Kelston."

He also told the newspaper he would be applying for retrospective planning permission.

However, Bath and North East Someset Council said it did not support the private road and warned motorists to think twice before paying the toll.

A council spokesman said: "It's not just the planning, it's the legal aspect of drivers using the road, and also safety.

"We appreciate the difficulties that local residents have experienced since the emergency closure and work has started to deliver a permanent solution as quickly as possible, but will not encourage proposals that have not been proven to be safe or compliant with statutory requirements.

"The council has no details to confirm the toll road design meets safety standards and no evidence that insurances are in place for any member of the public who uses the private toll road."

"The temporary toll road access is likely to generate a need for more traffic management on site, prolong the construction period and increase the cost of the repairs."

The permanent repair, costing £1.5m, is due to be complete by the end of 2014.

Council bosses insist the site work "continued to progress well".

Press Association

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