For five decades, the vibrant streets of Splott in Cardiff have grappled with a persistent issue — traffic congestion. This longstanding problem originated in the 1970s when Cardiff Council introduced the Eastern Bay Link (EBL) scheme, an ambitious initiative aimed at creating a ring road encircling the Welsh capital. However, bureaucratic hurdles and shifting governmental priorities have left the project in a state of uncertainty.
The completion of the first phase of the Eastern Bay Link in 2017, costing £57.3 million, connected the A4232 at Queens Gate roundabout to Rover Way at Ocean Way roundabout in Cardiff’s historic docklands. While this phase undoubtedly improved access to Cardiff Bay and the Cardiff Central Enterprise Zone, the overall impact on traffic flow remained incomplete.
For Splott residents, the unfinished project has become a daily point of discussion and a source of frustration. Many drivers, seeking to bypass the city centre, navigate through narrow residential streets like Courtney Road and Habershon Street, leading to evening chaos between 4 pm and 7 pm.
Courtney Road, in particular, witnesses sluggish traffic, prompting one resident to express dissatisfaction, noting, “During my five years here, traffic has consistently been a problem. Most drivers don’t reside in Splott but use these streets as a shortcut to or from Newport Road.” The congestion is compounded by narrow streets such as Habershon Street, where gridlock becomes a common occurrence during peak hours.
Noise pollution, a constant companion to traffic congestion, adds another layer of frustration for Splott residents. A recent homeowner on Habershon Street admitted that had they been aware of the traffic situation, they might have reconsidered their purchase. “It’s a rat race. The cars parked on either side of the road require patience, and that’s when people get road rage,” they lamented.
Local representatives, advocating for Splott, empathize with the community’s struggles, expressing concerns about the current level of rush hour traffic and its impact on one of the city’s economically challenged areas.
The proposed second phase of the Eastern Bay Link road aims to complete the ring road around Cardiff, offering a comprehensive solution to the persistent traffic issues in Splott. However, the project faces a significant hurdle in the form of the Welsh Government’s stringent criteria for approving new roads. These criteria, aligned with environmental and sustainability goals, prohibit schemes that increase road capacity for cars or lead to higher vehicle speeds.
The Future of Road Investment in Wales report acknowledges the challenges, stating, “Given that the Rover Way scheme is not yet fully developed, it is challenging to assess its consistency with current policy. The Panel suggests that highway or junction modifications increasing capacity should not proceed, as they could elevate car travel demand, contradicting Welsh Government’s aim to reduce car mileage per person.”
Despite the obstacles, optimism remains about finding a resolution. Completing the Eastern Bay Link, alongside delivering other critical infrastructure projects, is considered vital in diverting traffic away from residential areas like Splott.
As the fate of the project hangs in the balance, Splott residents continue to endure the daily challenges of traffic congestion, noise pollution, and the unintended consequences of a 50-year-old solution yet to reach fruition. Amid ongoing discussions, the community holds onto hope for a resolution that not only completes the Eastern Bay Link but also brings much-needed relief to their everyday lives.