The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has welcomed the decision of the Welsh Minister for Economy and Transport to re-open junction 41 of the M4 whilst she carries out further work on its impact and consults on the future of the Port Talbot stretch of the motorway.
In a letter to Assembly Members today, Edwina Hart writes: "The final report into the trial (4 hour per weekday) closure of junction 41 westbound on-slip confirms that the primary measure – the overall balance of monetised journey time benefit for the westbound M4 and local roads routes - is £180,000 per annum. On this basis the trial has demonstrated a benefit to the M4 without overall dis-benefit to the local road network. The report also states that secondary measures including car parking, footfall, queue lengths and air quality did not show any significant impact attributable to the trial closure.
I have however decided to lift the part time closure of the M4 junction 41 westbound on-slip whilst my officials conduct further analysis to inform a decision as to whether to proceed to a full consultation on closures."
Commenting, Peter Black said: “I find it difficult to believe that the Welsh Government’s analysis has concluded that there was no ‘dis-benefit’ to the local road network as a result of the closure or that there was no significant impact on the Town Centre. Anybody who was in Port Talbot during the times when junction 41 was closed could see that this was not the case. I wonder whether the government officials carrying out this monitoring were in the right town. I am writing to her to ask for more details of her study.
“Obviously the decision to re-open junction 41 whilst further analysis is carried out is very welcome. This will give the Welsh Government time to properly understand the impact of the average speed cameras on this section of motorway in ‘normal’ conditions.
“Reading between the lines, I believe that the Minister’s statement has effectively kicked permanent closure of junction 41 into the long grass. I certainly hope that is the case. However, Port Talbot needs some certainty if it is to recover from the effects of closure over the past 10 months or so. I would urge the Minister therefore to not leave this decision hanging but to make a final decision as soon as possible so that everybody knows where they stand on this issue.