Chepstow bypass idea to ease post-toll congestion

Chepstow town centre Image copyright Google
Image caption Residents of Chepstow are already concerned about congestion and air pollution in the town

A £100m bypass has been put forward as a solution to congestion in a town set to see traffic rise amid more housing and the end of the Severn Bridge tolls.

Residents of Chepstow have already complained of bottlenecks on the A48 and air pollution in recent years.

A new motorway junction and improved rail services have also been suggested by a cross-border transport study.

Monmouthshire council leader Peter Fox said the town faced a "perfect storm" of extra pressures on local roads.

Congestion was "hampering the future growth and development" of the Chepstow area, according to the report ordered by Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire county councils.

Image copyright Press Association
Image caption Traffic in south Wales is expected to increase now the Severn tolls have ended

Traffic on the A48 is expected to rise by around 23 percent in the short term, and a further 31 percent by 2024, since the Severn tolls were scrapped in December.

Major housing developments are also in the pipeline, with around 1,400 homes planned for the Chepstow and Severnside areas of Monmouthshire, and 1,800 over the border at Lydney in Gloucestershire.

In 2016, Hardwick Hill on the A48 into Chepstow exceeded air pollution limits set by the World Health Organisation, and were higher than those in the city of Newport.

Jez Becker, a Liberal Democrat councillor and founder of a bypass campaign group, said the study "backs up everything we've been talking about for years".

"Whatever we do it's going to be too late, but we've got to get started," he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

David Dovey, a councillor from Monmouthshire's ruling Conservative group, said: "We've been banging on about these issues for years and authorities on both sides have turned a blind eye to it."

However, council leader Peter Fox said funding was a "massive" issue, urging the Welsh and UK governments to "step up" and work with local councils to "find a solution that benefits us all".

The transport study will be discussed by Monmouthshire council's Lower Wye area committee on Wednesday.

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