The trial closure of Junction 41 of the M4 is set to continue even though the official trial period has ended, Edwina Hart has confirmed.
In a letter received by the MagNet today, the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport said that a final report on the trial will be published in May, and the trial closure would continue until then.
She said: “The trial operated until the end of March, and I will take a decision on the way forward following receipt of the final report in May. In the interim I have decided on the basis of advice from my officials that the part-time closures will continue.”
She also confirmed that further public consultation would take place before any permanent closure of the junction.
A local campaign against the closure has already handed a 22,000-strong petition to the Welsh Government expressing their opposition to the closure.
Aberavon AM David Rees said he was “disappointed” with the news. “I’m disappointed that they didn’t take the opportunity to re-open the motorway now to trial how the new average speed cameras affect the motorway around Port Talbot,” he said.
“There is large congestion at particular times around the town and we need to find a solution to the problems on the M4 which doesn’t create another problem for somebody else. Getting the M4 flow right would help the town, and the current trial has shown that closing the M4 creates difficulties on other roads.”
David Rees also raised concerns about the cost of continuing the closure.
“We need to know what this will cost. Where will the money be coming from?”
Local campaigners and traders have said that the trial closure has caused traffic disruption and a reduction in trade in Port Talbot. The Magnet has asked campaigners for a comment, and will update this story when they respond.