The Avon Ring Road/M4 link was debated in the House of Commons yesterday (Tuesday 7th July). The Westminster Hall debate was called by Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore and he was supported by his colleagues from the neighbouring constituencies, Jack Lopresti (Filton & Bradley Stoke) and Luke Hall (Thornbury & Yate).
The debate was the latest action in the Gateway 2 Growth campaign launched earlier this year to finally connect up the A4174 ring road at Emersons Green with the M4 at a new ‘Junction 18a’. In April, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin came to the Bristol & Bath Science Park for the launch of the campaign and visited the proposed site for the junction.
In yesterday’s debate, Mr Skidmore announced that the Gateway 2 Growth campaign has organised for a study to be conducted by the University of Bath into the economic benefits of the M4 Link road which will be unveiled at a major launch event at the House of Commons in September. He also said: “If we look at a map, we see that the Avon ring road, the A4174 and the M4 run so close together in parallel that we could be forgiven for thinking that they are adjoining carriageways on some sort of superhighway.
“At the Wick Wick roundabout or the Westerleigh Road roundabout on the ring road, where access points already exist and bridges cross the M4, the motorway lies tantalisingly close, but motorists have no other option than to wait patiently in a queue that stretches for miles along the ring road, and then to travel—against their instincts and better judgment—in the opposite direction for three miles before turning back on themselves. In the end—after a wait of, at times, an hour—a commuter will join the M4 at junction 19 and travel back past Emersons Green, where they started.”
In commending Mr Skidmore for launching the campaign, Jack Lopresti pointed out that before the benefit of new jobs and more housing in the area could be felt, it was vital to have the infrastructure in place to support it. And Luke Hall reminded Members of the
House that the link is not a new idea and that he wasn’t even born when it had first been considered in 1985. He also pointed out that many motorists travelling to and from the east side of Bristol used junction 19 to avoid the problems described by Mr Skidmore at junction 18. This was not only causing congestion at the Bath exit from the M4 but diverting extra traffic along the A420 and through villages like Wick.
Responding, the new Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport, Andrew Jones responded: “I would be happy to help, and a very strong case has been made. I understand entirely why the link matters. It would open up opportunities and improve the quality of life in the area. I am aware of the congestion as people come down the M4 before taking the motorway spur into the centre of Bristol. The economic growth of the area is vigorously championed by local MPs.”