The mystery of the missing A470

June 2, 2010 1 Comment »

Last year, we travelled the length of the A470 from just south of Llandudno back to the Radyr exit. It’s a fantastic journey. Virtually the whole length, at least as far south as Merthyr, has amazing scenery. It’s the sort of road that’s a pleasure to drive, and there aren’t many like that these days. There should be a song about it, like Route 66 or Highway 61. The Wales Tourist Board should be promoting its virtues.

A470 view (C) Paul Seligman

View from A470 – Photo by Paul Seligman

The A470 always used to continue to Cardiff City Centre, down St Mary Street and on to Cardiff Bay, making it Wales’ only coast-to-coast North to South trunk road.

I recently tried to follow it through the City. All is well as you drive down North Road, with A470 signs at intervals. Shortly before the junction with Colum Road, you have a reassuring “A470 and Cardiff Bay” sign.

The last A470 sign as you head south through Cardiff

However, as you reach the Law Courts, the next road sign indicates that you are now on the A4161. The A470 has vanished without warning. So who stole the last section? Can a trunk road just be removed without any legal permissions?

The A470 has morphed into the A4161

I wrote to the “Roads and Projects Division” of The Welsh Assembly Government, who have responsibility for trunk roads. This is an excerpt:

“The A470 is Wales’ major North-South road, running from Llandudno to Cardiff Bay. Or it used to.

As far as I can see, it now ends its southern section somewhere around Cardiff Castle. Ever since Cardiff Council banned most vehicles from High Street and St Mary Street, no one I know has any understanding of where the southernmost section of the A470 runs.

Can you explain where the last section of the A470 is now?

Behind this question is the widespread concern of residents of Cardiff that we now have no sensible north-south route through our city centre. Journeys between the Bay and the northern suburbs take an excessive amount of time, whatever devious route one attempts…. you might be interested to know that many of my colleagues from north of Cardiff actually travel from M4 J32 Coryton to J33, then via the A4232 to Cardiff Bay, to avoid the City Centre – this represents many unnecessary miles, unnecessary fuel usage etc.

It should concern WAG that the same applies to long distance travellers attempting to use the trunk road network.”

WAG’s reply:

I can advise that the road network in Wales is divided between the motorway and trunk road network for which the Welsh Assembly Government is the highway authority and the local road network for which the relevant local authority is responsible.

The A470 trunk road from Glan Conwy in the North ends at Coryton in the South. However as a road number the A470 continues to Cardiff Bay and this section falls within the jurisdiction of Cardiff Council as the relevant local authority.

Therefore, I suggest that you direct your query to that authority who is best placed to provide you with an authoritative response.”

Asking the villain of the piece didn’t seem to offer much. I’ve had too much experience of attempting a dialogue with our council on any transport issues.  I replied to WAG::

“Whilst I understood that maintenance fell under different authorities, I thought the Assembly Government might take some overall interest or responsibility in road journeys across Wales as a whole. Obviously not. So from your point of view, Cardiff Council could build a barrier across the road numbered A470, 100m south of Coryton and you would have no comment?”

That was in January. No reply was received.

The pedestrianisation of Queen Street in 1974 was preceded by building Boulevard de Nantes and Stuttgarter Strasse to link Kingsway with Dumfries Place and act as a bypass. That worked well and was welcomed by everyone.

The pedestrianisation of St Mary Street has been put in place with no practical alternative. What a shambles.

This is a guest post from Paul Seligman, a resident of Fairwater

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