A savvy grandfather who was sick of roadworks near his home has defied his council and built his own bypass toll road – the first for more than 100 years.
Businessman Mike Watts decided to open the thoroughfare – made of a mix of asphalt and chippings – to bypass a closed section of the A431 between Bath and Bristol.
- The toll road is just 340 yards in length but avoids a 10-mile detour
The Kelston Road was shut in February following a landslip and officials say that it will not be repaired until the end of the year.
But a new makeshift road, which costs £2 a time to use, re-opens the important ‘back road’ – which is used by commuters going between the two cities.
Local villagers in nearby Kelston have repeatedly criticised Bath & North East Somerset Council for not re-opening the main road sooner and say it has caused major traffic problems in the area.
Mr. Watts said that his toll road will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with toll operators there all the time.
The businessman persuaded local farmer John Dinham to rent him his empty field next to the A431 which connects Bristol and Bath until roadworks were complete.
He hired a crew of workmen and ploughed £150,000 of his own cash into building a 340-yard long professional-standard bypass road in the field.
The road which opened yesterday is the first privately run toll road to be built since cars became a familiar sight on roads more than 100 years ago.
But officials say that the road does not have planning permission or safety certificates …. Bath and North East Somerset Council said that it did not support the private road and warned motorists to think twice before paying the toll.
A council spokesman said: ‘It’s not just the planning, it’s the legal aspect of drivers using the road, and also safety.
‘The temporary toll road access is likely to generate a need for more traffic management on site, prolong the construction period and increase the cost of the repairs.’
The permanent repair, costing £1.5m is due to be complete by the end of 2014.
Council chiefs insist the site work ‘continued to progress well’.
If you think that bureaucrats might have come up with this simple idea to ease their constituents’ lives and approached that same farmer, you don’t know your bureaucrats.