Last February, between Bath and Bristol, the A431 suffered from a “landslip.” (I assume that’s Brit-speak for “landslide.”) With the road closed, folks on either side of the slide had to drive around “the long way.”
The government body responsible for the road said the repair wouldn’t be finished till the end of the year.
So one commuter, businessman Mike Watts, took matters into his own hands. Contracting with the farmer who owned the adjacent fields, he built a road parallel to the old one. And, with the apparent blessings of the road authority, set up his 400-yard toll road to make up the difference. A private, pay-for-use “traffic revision.”
He charges £2 per trip for a car, and just celebrated his hundred thousandth car. He’s well on his way to recovering his costs.
Unfortunately, those costs have included some payola demands (er, fees) from the government.
But we all knew that. Private roads, turnpikes, toll roads — they were once quite common, and could become common again. This is the first in a century in Britain, though.
What this story demonstrates? Let another enterprising Brit, 19th century sociologist Herbert Spencer, explain it: “Unlike private enterprise which quickly modifies its actions to meet emergencies . . . the law-made instrumentality lumbers on under all varieties of circumstances at its habitual rate.”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.