Civic leaders at Cardiff council have called on the Welsh Government to finally complete a ring road to ease traffic congestion.
The Eastern Bay link road, from east Cardiff to the Bay, would effectively complete a circular dual-carriageway system all the way round the capital when added to the M4 to the north and the existing A4232 Ely link road to the southwest.
Plaid councillors Neil McEvoy and Lisa Ford – in charge of economic development and transport respectively – said the project was vital for the growth of Cardiff. But a transport expert said funding for public transport schemes to get more people out of their cars must be the priority.
The 3.4-mile Eastern Bay link road, long seen as the missing link in the capital’s road network, would connect the Ely link road to the Lamby Way/Rover Way roundabout and run along the coastline, cutting congestion in areas like Newport Road.
Coun McEvoy, deputy leader of the council, said: “My ambition is for Cardiff to be a connected business location that can attract multinational companies and drive prosperity in Wales. Completing the Eastern Bay link would really open up the city, create stronger links to the east and allow Cardiff businesses to connect to Bristol, London and the M4 corridor. The economic impact would be vast.”
Coun Ford added: “Countless studies have identified the daily commute as one of the key factors in levels of people’s happiness. Currently too many of us travelling in from the east are sat in traffic for hours each week. Compare this to the stress-free commute from the west.”
Costings suggest the scheme would cost several hundred million pounds. It was previously suggested it could be funded through a private public partnership or as a toll road. But Coun McEvoy cited a 2008 study which said that for every pound spent on the road the Cardiff economy would make £2.82 back through increased economic competitiveness.
“That represents good value for money and I believe that the Eastern Bay link is potentially the most important road in Wales,” Coun McEvoy said. “Through investing in less than 6km of road we could create a connected capital city, enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Cardiff and strengthen Cardiff’s ability to deliver economic renewal in Wales.”
But Professor Stuart Cole, from the Wales Transport Research Centre at the University of Glamorgan, said the link road should be “way down” on the list of priorities. Instead, he said, the Welsh Government and Cardiff council should concentrate on capitalising on the electrification of the Great Western main line.
“What the Eastern Bay link road did in its original form was to take east to west traffic out of Cardiff and into the Bay,” he said. “Now we have got the opportunity of electrification we should concentrate on that, as it will take the traffic off the road and on to public transport.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said the link was not included in the National Transport Plan and was unlikely to be included in the rescheduled delivery plan due in the autumn.