March 10 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Traffic travelling from the Suffolk ports “may not be better off” as a result of the A14 upgrade unless a completely new road is built, a transport academic has claimed.
David Metz, from the centre for transport studies at University College London, told the Commons transport select committee there was a risk an upgraded road would simply fill up with local traffic from around Cambridge.
His comments come after the Chancellor axed plans to toll a new stretch of the A14 following a campaign by local business leaders and politicians in the region.
Asked about his views on the concept of road tolls during an inquiry into better roads, Dr Metz said: “One approach to dealing with localised congestion is tolling, and the M6 toll is an example of that. Where for a modest fee £5 or so for a car, long distance traffic can proceed unimpeded while the main M6 is used for local trips.”
It is not yet clear what the shape of the A14 plans will look like after the plans to charge for the road were axed.
But Dr Metz said: “The risk is, because Cambridge is an economically dynamic area with a growing population, the new road will fill up with traffic, particularly at peak times, so the long distance traffic from the East Coast ports to the Midlands and beyond may not be better off.
“So tolling may have a role, but it will only be when you can put in place a new road, because you cannot start very easily or politically tolling an existing road.”
Karen Dee, director of policy at the Freight Transport Association, who was also giving evidence to the committee said that her member had not ruled out tolling roads on a case by case basis. “I think our members are willing to consider it. They are business users and they will make a business decision as to whether it is worth paying for.”