Talk about taking matters into your own hands. When confronted by the prospect of a lengthy diversion near his home, businessman Mike Watts decided to construct a toll road of his very own.
The bypass runs along a closed stretch of the A431 between Bath and Bristol. It provides a 365-metre detour through a neighbouring field, saving motorists from a 14-mile detour around the countryside.
With the road closed predicted to be closed until Christmas 2014, Watts hopes 10,000 drivers will use his toll to save fuel and time at the cost of £2 for cars, £1 for motorcycles and £3 for a car or van and trailer each way. Ten passes can be bought at a slight discount.
“Building a toll road isn’t easy to do – this is the first private toll road in Britain for 100 years. I think people are very grateful that we have taken the risk,” Watts told the Metro newspaper.
Watts invested £150,000 of his own money and enlisted the help of his crew of roadworkers to get the project off the ground. 30,000 people will need to use Kelston toll road every month to break even, according to the report.
The council is concerned about the new road, which was deemed safe by the Highways Agency. “It’s not just the planning, it’s the legal aspect of drivers using the road – and also safety,” a Bath and North East Somerset Council spokesperson commented.
Toll roads are unpopular at best, but the diversion would probably cost more than £2 in fuel anyway. At least it is less drastic than driving across a frozen river.