Frustrated with Slow Repairs on a Government Road, This Man Built a Private Toll Road


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The A431 road is essential for people who live near Kelston, Somerset, UK. But a big section of it has been shut down for 10 months for repairs. Getting around it requires a 14-mile detour--at least until last week.

Like many residents, Mike Watts was sick of waiting for the government to repair the road. While at a pub, he overheard a man talking about this problem. The man owned land next to the closed portion. Some drivers were cutting across his field to get around the construction (or lack thereof).

Watts saw an opportunity. Would drivers pay for a detour? The Guardian describes how Watts responded:

That was when Watts suggested a toll road. Actually, it was his wife, Wendy, with whom he runs an espresso bar and two Funtastic party shops in Bath's Guildhall market, who said: "You should put in a toll road and charge people." But Watts is "the mouthpiece" (Watts says), and so he told Dinham: "If you want, we'll do a deal. I'll pull it all together, I'll fund it."

That was in May. Last month, the road builders began. Ten days later, the road was ready. "Maybe two weeks," says the site foreman for RM Penney, who wishes to remain anonymous. The process was fast because there are no kerbs, no tarmac, just the sub-base normally found beneath tarmac. The stones came from a local quarry at Wick. The weather was kind. The road opened last Friday.

For £2 ($3.36 USD), drivers can use the 340-yard toll road. About 500 to 600 cars have been using it daily since then. Watts thinks that he needs about 1,000 per day to break even with his expenses.

-via 22 Words


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