July 11, 2008
Airport Access Plans Await Clearance ; New Road and Rail Links Under Consideration
By Ben Glaze; James McCarthy
A BLUEPRINT for improving access to Cardiff International Airport has been unveiled by the Welsh Assembly Government.It plans to transform transport to and from the airport in the Vale of Glamorgan, after nine out of 10 people quizzed last autumn said road approaches to the Rhoose terminal were "inadequate".
A Welsh Assembly spokesman said: "The airport has experienced considerable growth which in turn has generated more traffic to and from the airport.
"The Assembly Government has therefore commissioned consultants to undertake a detailed study of potential options to improve access by both public and private transport.
"Details of the options under consideration, including train and bus service improvements, as well as three potential road improvement schemes are now on public display at a series of exhibitions around the area designed to canvas public opinion."
Consultants Arup spent six months drawing up the detailed proposals.
The company has suggested three possible schemes to improve driving to the airport.
Two involve straightening and re-routing one of Wales' most notorious accident blacks pots, the A4226, known locally as Five Mile Lane.
Option A: Widening to three lanes theA4232 Ely Link from the M4 Junction 33 (Cardiff West) to Culverhouse Cross. Traffic would be diverted around Culverhouse on a new bypass then join the A4050, the current airport link.
The road would be improved in parts with new stretches built altogether.
Option B: Improving theA4232 from J33 to Culverhouse Cross.
Vehicles would be taken off before Culverhouse onto a new bypass link to the A48 Tumble Hill.
Traffic would travel to Sycamore Cross then join the A4226 Five Mile Lane through the Vale of Glamorgan. The existing road would be improved in parts with new stretches built, allowing speed limits to increase.
Option C: Taking traffic off the M4 at Junction 34 (Miskin) down through Hensol and towards the A48 at Sycamore Cross and onto Five Mile Lane. It would again be improved with new, straighter stretches added.
Airport executives favour Option C, which would provide the most direct route and cut journey times for passengers travelling from west and north of Cardiff - such as Bridgend, Swansea, Llantrisant and surrounding valleys.
The option would also have the side-effect of easing pressure on Culverhouse Cross for passengers driving from Cardiff and Newport, many of whom are predicted to continue using Culverhouse and the existing A4050.
The airport's director of commercial and business development, Steve Hodgetts, said last night: "The preferred option for the airport wouldbe improving the link between Junction 34 on the M4 and the airport, and our view will be considered alongside the views of all other parties consulted."
The proposals were revealed at roadshows organized by the Welsh Assembly Government and Arup.
Depending on responses, the Welsh Assembly Government and necessary planning consents, work on the chosen scheme could start in two years.
TheWAG also wants to address public transport. It hopes the X91 bus service from Cardiff city centre will increase from once to twice hourly, with rail improvements freeing track space so more trains can run A new station could be built at St Athan and an extra plat format Barry.
Professor Stuart Cole, transport expert at the University of Glamorgan, said: "If we want to encourage more planes to come to Cardiff and provide more destinations for the people of Cardiff and South Wales, and if we want to make it more accessible to people coming in and boost the tourist industry, we need good communications."
He added: "Look at comparable cities like Newcastle. It has a 15 to 20-minute tram service called Light Rail from the airport to Newcastle city centre.
"And in Edinburgh they have got an eight-mile 'bus way' which is built as part of the highway."
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