Rolling in money: Man makes toll road to get around roadworks

After a road was closed for months, local businessman Mike Watts built his own in 10 days - allowing people to bypass the 14-mile diversion

A grandfather sick of roadworks near his home defied his council and built his own toll road allowing people to circumvent the disrupted section.

Opened on Friday, it’s the first private toll road built since cars became a familiar sight on British roads 100 years ago. Motorists pay £2 to travel each way and bypass the 14 miles diversion.

Mike Watts, 62, hired a crew of workmen and ploughed £150,000 of his own cash into building a 365m long bypass road in a field next to the closed A431. He reckons it will cost another £150,000 in upkeep costs and to pay for two 24 hour a day toll booth operators.

Speaking from the road in Kelston, Somerset, Mike said: "Too many people are displaced by the road closure, their daily lives have been so disrupted by this.”

Mike hired a crew of workmen to build a 365m long professional-standard bypass road in a field next to the closed A431 (SWNS)Mike hired a crew of workmen to build a 365m long professional-standard bypass road in a field next to the closed …

The A431 between Bristol and Bath was closed in February after a landslip caused huge cracks to appear in the road.

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Quickly businesses in the area began to suffer - including the cafe and party supplies shop Mike runs with wife Wendy Rice, 52, in Bath.

"It used to just be a very quick drive for us to Bath, but we were having to do a 14 mile detour which was taking up to an hour down tiny lanes just not designed to take the traffic," Mike said.

Father of four Mike asked his friend John Dinham if he would mind renting him the field until Christmas and hired three workmen to help build the road in just 10 days.

He worked with the Highways Agency, has public liability insurance and has submitted a retrospective planning application.

The grandfather also worked with officers at Bath & North East Somerset Council and the Health and Safety Executive have inspected the site which he said is on stable ground.

But a spokesman for the council said it was not happy about the bold build.

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"It is not just the planning, it's the legal aspect of drivers using the road, and also safety - the area around the road where the landslip occurred has only just stopped moving, which is why work has only just been able to begin.

"We appreciate the difficulties that local residents have experienced since the emergency closure and work has started to deliver a permanent solution as quickly as possible."