CALLS for a relief road to the M4 were renewed yesterday when an early morning accident in Brynglas Tunnels caused traffic chaos across the city – closing the main artery for four hours, and leaving other routes into the city jammed with traffic.
The M4 was closed westbound shortly before 6.30am when a lorry collided with a tanker, resulting in miles of tailbacks and bumper-to-bumper misery for commuters on the A48 Southern Distributor Road (SDR), the A4042, the A449 southbound, and Cardiff Road, Newport.
No-one was hurt in the crash, but the M4 only re-opened around 10am following recovery of one of the vehicles which had to be “lifted” from the scene due to “severe damage”.
The disruption came a day after a traffic light failure at the Forge Road/ Tredegar Park junction in Newport, which also caused considerable delays.
Matthew Evans, head of the Tory group on Newport City Council, took to social media sites to express his frustration.
“Tired of saying the same thing about the M4 and much needed relief road,” he Tweeted. “Decades of broken promises and we are still consulting.”
Speaking later to the Argus, he said Newport has the “unenviable reputation of being one of the UK’s bottleneck hotspots”.
“This has to change,” he added. “It has been two days of chaos and there is no end in sight.
“The Welsh Government really needs to grab the bull by the horns now and make a start.”
South East Wales AM William Graham said he intended to raise the issue at the Welsh Assembly yesterday afternoon.
“We need a true relief road, and hopefully that is the long-term solution, but we also need an interim solution to tackle blockages now,” he said.
“But is also goes to show that the SDR is incapable of handling the immense volume of traffic.”
Wildlife Trusts Wales backed calls for Professor Stuart Cole’s £380 million ‘blue route’ proposal to update the A48 using part of the SDR – an alternative to a £1 billion three-lane motorway on the Gwent Levels – after the tunnel crash.
James Byrne, living landscapes manager for the trust said: “The choice between options is clear: the Blue Route would be built more quickly, is substantially cheaper and is significantly less damaging that the other options proposed.”
Professor Cole said: “We need an additional piece of high-quality highway. It is important for costs and the image of Wales. Wales must be seen to be open for business, and always open.”
Alan Edwards, president of Newport’s Chamber of Trade, called it a “disaster” for the city centre when the M4 shuts down.
He said: “People can’t get into their businesses and it puts people off coming in to Newport, if they hear about delays.”