In what is a fantastic example of intuition, hard work and determination, a businessman from Somerset has created his own private toll road to provide motorists with a through route while roadworks take place on the main road. Mike Watts decided to take action when he saw that road closures would force motorists to take an alternative route around part of the A431 in Kelston, adding an extra 14 miles onto their journey.
Watts spent over £150,000 creating the road, and he estimates that the running costs of the road will top the same amount, which is why he has decided to charge users of his road a toll of £2 per journey. The road, which has been open since August, is estimated to earn Mr Watts £150,000, and he has already made back ⅔ of his expense. He is hoping to break even in December before the main road re-opens.
There were added costs as well as the set up and running expense for the road: Mr Watts did not obtain planning permission for the project, simply renting a field and setting about his work – retrospective planning mission is due for assessment, which cost Mike an extra £25,000. There was opposition from the council when the project was underway, but as results are proving, the consensus among road users is that the toll road is an incredibly useful route.
Watts estimates that the road will need 150,000 cars over it if it is to break even, but that target is set to be comfortably achieved, meaning that Mr Watts has provided a fantastic service for the public, and saved them time and money without leaving himself at a financial loss. The road has cost Mr Watts a total of £300,000 to build and run, compared with the estimated £1.5m – £2m price of the road repairs the government is undertaking on the main road.
With the government set to re-open the closed road before Christmas, there may even be time for Mike to make a profit on his idea – a just reward for the time, effort and sacrifice he has expended in order to make the lives of Kelston’s motorists easier.
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