New toll road will cost £70m per mile

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The Independent Online

Plans to build what is being described as "the most expensive road in UK history" have been attacked as a potential disaster.

Research commissioned by the GMB union shows that the Birmingham Northern Relief Road – the Government's flagship private road project – could earn the private sector £2bn with a cost to motorists of £70m for each mile of road.

The total bill for construction, he claims, has come to £400m, more than even the controversial Limehouse Link in London.

In a renewed attack on public-private partnerships, the GMB has dubbed the project "highway robbery".

The company that has won the contract, Midlands Expressway Ltd, will get an annual income for more than £39m each year for 50 years, according to the GMB. And the 27-mile toll road is expected to charge around £2.50 per private vehicle. The Highway Agency estimates traffic flow of up to 15 million journeys a year; toll revenue could give the operators a 500 per cent return on construction costs.

John Edmonds, the union's general secretary said: "Once again the public is set to pay the price for the Government's current love affair with the private sector. At a cost of £70m per mile, this road had better be paved with gold."

The road project itself has taken almost 20 years to plan and has already caused huge controversy following the announcement it would be built on green-belt land. While in opposition, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had claimed the scheme would go ahead "over my dead body".

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