Letter: Paying for yet more roads

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The Independent Online
Sir: Bypasses are conventionally justified on two basic grounds: the relief given to the bypassed community, and the improved journey times for the bypassing traveller. In the examples quoted by W K Stead (Letters, 23 April), it is clear that there were significant benefits to the bypassed communities in Devon and Cornwall. However, the roads were primarily justified by the Government in terms of the benefit to the bypassing traveller (using the much-criticised CoBA system).

However, the situation is somewhat different in Newbury, as in any instance where the bypassed community is of significant size. The majority of Newbury's traffic is local, and will remain on the existing roads even if the bypass is built. The community will not be relieved of its traffic problems. For the Government, relieving the problems of Newbury was only ever a side issue compared with the time savings to travellers on the A34.

The other thing that is different is that it is now 1996. It would be a brave politician who claimed that all road building is a good thing. All would say that it is a matter of balance, with journey-time savings rated as less important than they once were, when compared with habitat destruction, traffic generation, pollution, global warming and the toll of road accidents.

An expensive mistake is being made at Newbury. I pray that this time it will be the last.

Richard Mann

Oxford

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