Wales politics

M4 at Newport: Shutting junctions 'would increase city queues'

M4 near Malpas Image copyright Geograph/Lewis Clarke
Image caption There are several junctions on the stretch of the M4 through Newport

Shutting junctions on the M4 motorway in Newport would only make life more difficult for people in the city, an AM has warned.

Closing junctions has been suggested as a cheap way of reducing congestion on the M4 by restricting local traffic.

But Jayne Bryant, AM for Newport West, said not all of the traffic using Newport junctions comes from the area.

A commission examining alternatives to the cancelled M4 Relief Road is expected to look at the idea.

Earlier in June First Minister Mark Drakeford scrapped the £1.6bn six-lane road on the grounds that it would damage the Gwent Levels, as well as its cost.

Instead, he proposed a commission to look at alternatives to reduce congestion on the road through Newport - including all those examined at a public inquiry on the motorway upgrade.

The inquiry's planning inspector, the late Bill Wadrup, had rejected the alternatives in favour of the relief road.

One of the alternatives he looked at included shutting eastbound slip-roads at junctions 25 and 26, and junction 27 High Cross entirely, at a cost of £10m.

Statistics put to the public inquiry said that 22% of the traffic at junction 27 was used by motorists driving to or from another Newport motorway exit.

Image caption Jayne Bryant said shutting junctions would "push more traffic onto other urban roads"

In a Senedd debate earlier this week Ms Bryant said the closure of an M4 junction would "only make life more difficult for my constituents and those in Caerphilly, Torfaen and Risca".

"My worry is that it will push more traffic onto other urban roads in Newport," she said, adding it was not just Newport motorists that used the interchanges in the city.

"There's traffic coming down from other parts of Wales, whether that's junction 26 which caters for the Cwmbran end, or whether that's junction 27 which is getting a lot of traffic from Risca."

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Media captionWhy has the M4 relief road been axed?

Ms Bryant, who had supported the relief road, will raise the concerns with the commission, along with ideas to tackle congestion that others have suggested.

"Everyone is united that something should be done. This is the time for something to be done," she said.

'Severely burdened'

Mr Wadrup, in his report, said the traffic displaced by closing junctions would be redistributed elsewhere and would only reduce traffic on the M4 by about 5%.

"Locals would be severely burdened and inconvenienced," he wrote.

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Media captionLife on the coastal wetlands between Newport and the Severn estuary

Last year Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price told the Senedd partially closing junction 26, near the Brynglas tunnels, would be a "rather neat and exceedingly cheap solution".

In a response to a request to Plaid for comment, the party's Rhun ap Iorwerth said traffic problems in and around Newport "need to be solved through a multi-modal approach, which must include the development of well-funded and integrated public transport".

Backbench Labour Swansea East AM Mike Hedges has also proposed closing junctions around Newport in the assembly in the past, although he told BBC Wales that he would not want to see that happen against the wishes of residents.

The Welsh Government declined to comment.

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