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Welsh engineers call for fund to x roads

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ENGINEERS IN Wales are calling for a new tax to fund a £1bn road maintenance backlog.

ICE Wales is pressing the Welsh Assembly to introduce a 'road immediate maintenance fund' in a bid to take roadfunding decisions away from local authorities.

It argues that such a scheme would be little different to that in the water sector where Welsh Water customers will see bills rise from £286 to £353 by 2010 to pay for a £1.3bn capital investment programme.

'If you compare a road and a water network they are not different. Yet when something needs to be done to the water network I simply pay more on my bill. But for roads, funds have got to go through local authorities and with their straightened budgets it never happens, ' said ICE Wales national manager Denys Morgan.

'We have raised this idea in the Assembly and it has shown some interest.'

RAC Foundation executive director Edmund King said that there could be a benet if the fund was ring-fenced. However, he added that it would be better if authorities were forced to ring-fence existing transport budgets.

ICE Wales' proposal is outlined in a report, Agenda for a nation: an assessment of infrastructure in Wales, published this week ahead of the 2007 Welsh Assembly Elections.

It sets out a multi-billion pound wish list of projects needed to support Welsh economic growth. These include:

the introduction of highspeed rail services in north and south Wales

funding for an expansion of flights from Cardiff International Airport

development of Port Talbot's deep water harbour

an early commitment to the construction of the Severn Barrage

the construction of Energy from Waste facilities.

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