The A55 runs from Holyhead on Anglesey to the start of the M53 near Chester and is the lifeblood of the North Wales economy. Also known as the North Wales Expressway and the Chester to Bangor Trunk Road, it is Wales’ busiest expressway and one of the most important routes in the UK. It serves as a gateway to our beautiful region, which is frequented by local commuters and the thousands of tourists who visit North Wales each year.
However, despite being such a major route in Wales, it has suffered from under-investment and congestion for far too long.
Less than two weeks ago drivers were stuck in traffic for over five hours after the expressway was closed in both directions as police dealt with a distressed woman on a bridge.
Queues stretched for more than 13 miles between junction 22 for Old Colwyn, junction 28 for Rhuallt and alternative routes, through Abergele towards Rhuddlan, also became gridlocked - it was chaos.
I recognise that from time to time there will be incidents on this very busy trunk road, which does not have sufficient hard shoulders for the whole of its length, there were significant costs of £5 million incurred by the taxpayer a few years ago in order to install gates within the central barriers of the A55.
The people of North Wales, and the tourism businesses, that were affected by this horrendous tailback deserve an explanation as to why those central barriers were not opened on this occasion and why the delay continued for such a long time.
These things are unacceptable and we have to start using and reaping the rewards of the investment that has been made in that part of the trunk road network.
We are constantly hearing of the need to improve transport links with England, and of the investment that is planned for the M4 in South Wales, but quite frankly using the A55 to get to work is becoming an increasingly arduous battle each day for North Wales commuters.
Also, it is not giving a good impression of North Wales. Instead of a welcome in the hillside, tourists are all too often greeted with traffic jams and long delays which ruin the start of their holidays and risk them choosing alternative locations to stay in the future.
People got so fed up waiting in their vehicles in last week’s delay that they started line dancing and playing cricket on the dual carriageway! – and who can blame them, five hours in a hot car that’s going nowhere is too much for anyone to bear, particularly young children.
People have had enough of the holdups on this important road and while I welcome the fact that research on cutting congestion and reducing the number of accidents is currently being undertaken by the Welsh Government, I only hope that those in power act quickly on their findings and ensure that they involve all those who have a key part to play so that delays are kept to an absolute minimum in the future. A solution to this long-running problem is long overdue.