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Fixed 50mph speed limit recommended for M4 in Newport

Written by on 17th December 2019

An average speed limit of 50 mph should be introduced to tackle congestion on the M4 around Newport, the commission set up after the decision to scrap the relief road has said.

South East Wales Transport Commission recommended “fast-track” measures to ease traffic at the Brynglas tunnels.

These would help reduce the “ripple effect” of changes in speed which disrupt traffic, it said.

The 50mph limit between junctions 24 and 28 would apply all day.

In a progress report on its work, the commission conceded this would mean slower travel times for vehicles at off-peak times.

“It is worth noting the case for 50mph speed control goes beyond congestion alleviation. There are also good arguments from an emissions and road safety perspective – these apply to all parts of the day,” it said.

It also recommended providing “additional lane guidance” on the westbound approach to the tunnels and collapsible bollards to prevent late lane changes.

The report called for better traffic officer support, with formalised response time targets and a wider patrol areas to cover the A48 and A4810 in Newport.

The commission was formed in October in the wake of the controversial decision to scrap the M4 relief road, and was told to look at alternatives.

The commission said looked at the M4 between junctions 23 and 29.

The report said: “Congestion worsens when vehicles travel at different speeds and frequently change lanes. This is particularly significant when approaching the Brynglas tunnels at peak times.

“We believe there are some traffic management measures that can help alleviate some of the problem.”

The report said the M4 near Newport was the fourth most congested stretch of urban motorway in the UK and ranked in the top 50 hotspots in Europe.

It found the motorway struggled to provide reliable travel for more than 3,000 to 4,000 vehicles per hour – at peak times, traffic approaching the tunnels is about 4,000 to 5,000 vehicles per hour..

The majority of journeys involved Cardiff, Newport and Bristol and data suggested there are more people living in Wales and working in England than the reverse, it said.

Congestion is a symptom of broader issues, it added, “in particular the lack of viable or attractive alternative transport options”.

“Our initial analysis shows that for trips within the region, private car travel on the motorway is very often both quicker and cheaper than public transport, even accounting for congestion. This understandably prompts people to use their cars.”