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Diversion fears rule out M4 tolls

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CONSULTANT HALCROW last week ruled out tolls for the M4 motorway for 15 years in its recommendations for transport improvements in the South West.

Its South West Area Regional Multi Modal Study (SWARMS) rules out inter-urban tolling because of the congestion it would cause as a result of traffic diverting to other roads. This is in spite of the fact that tolls could raise an estimated £1.2bn over a 30 year period.

The rejection of tolling comes after other major studies such as the North South Movements study on the M1, West Midlands Area and the West Midlands to North West study recommended tolling within 15 years.

'We felt that the disadvantage of traffic diverting on to less suitable roads outweighs the advantage, ' said Halcrow director David Bayliss.

An efficient, nationally compatible tolling technology has yet to emerge, he added.

The study was presented to local authorities in the South West last week. It recommends dualling the A303 in four places but rejects proposals to widen the A30 from Ilminster to Honiton through the Blackdown Hills area of outstanding natural beauty.

Halcrow instead recommends dualling the A358 from Ilminster to Taunton where it would connect with the M5.

Road improvements account for 14% of the total £3bn cost of implementing the recommendations. Some 75% would be spent on doubling rail capacity including doubling track between Salisbury and Exeter.

The two year study has not made detailed recommendations for the Bristol area which Halcrow says 'required a level of detail beyond our terms of reference'.

INFOPLUS www. swarms. org. uk

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