HC Deb 19 June 1930 vol 240 cc590-2W
Colonel ASHLEY

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the comparatively light traffic on that section of the Bath Road which lies in Wiltshire and the need for economy in public expenditure, both national and local, he will confer with the Wiltshire County Council with a view to cancelling the expenditure of £360,000 on the reconstruction of that road?


asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been drawn to the widespread local opposition to the proposed widening of the Bath Road through the county of Wiltshire as being unnecessary for present or prospective traffic; and whether he will invite the county council to submit a modified scheme for by-passes, corner cutting, and other minor improvements where necessary?


I Lave recently made a personal inspection of the Bath Road (Route A. 4) in Wiltshire, and will answer the right hon. and gallant Member's question in some detail. My answer will at the same time cover the following question on the same subject asked by the hon. Member for the Devizes Division (Mr. Hurd). This road forms part of the principal route from London to the west of England. The total length to be dealt with in Wiltshire is 30 miles. The width of the existing carriageway between verges is from 18 feet to 21 feet, and is only sufficient for two lines of traffic. The new road will have a carriageway of 30 feet throughout. The existing work will be utilised as far as possible; but new haunches are necessary and will be surfaced to meet the existing carriageway. A footpath will be provided along the whole length of the road, except through Savernake Forest, where the road will not even be kerbed. The average volume of traffic on the section of the road in Wiltshire is at present estimated to be 3,000 tons per day as against 900 tons per day in 1922. Traffic will increase still further, and it is considered that the present strength and width of the road would be found inadequate within five years, and that considerable works of widening and strengthening (at a cost possibly in excess of that now proposed) would be then inevitable. As regards the appearance of the road, it is the intention of the county council to preserve its amenities to the fullest possible extent. There has been a great deal of misconception on this point. For instance, over a stretch of seven miles, including the forest, only 21 trees need be felled and a larger number of new trees will be planted. The slopes of all cuttings and embankments will be covered with turf. Existing hedges will be interfered with in very few places; but where this is unavoidable, a new quick hedge will be planted. I was impressed by the care Which is being taken by the county council to avoid impairing the beauty of this famous road, and I have no doubt that their efforts will be successful. I am satisfied that the widening and strengthening of the road constitutes a prudent and economic piece of expenditure.