I spent most of my youth living on Bettws between the mid-eighties and early 2000's until I left. Recently I moved back there (yeah, it's still a dump) and one thing that's still present is the traffic problems on Bettws Lane during peak hours.
Unlike other large estates in Newport, Bettws is situated down in a valley surrounded by fields, woods, hills and great views towards Twmbarlwm.
Though it's only about a mile away from the M4 motorway, there's only one major way in and out of Bettws. That consists of a single two-way carriageway (Bettws Lane), that not only has to deal with the thousands of individuals that live in Bettws but also has to deal with namby-pamby parents dropping off and picking up their kids at Newport High School.
Traffic flows perfectly freely during nonpeak hours, however, it can take up to 30 to 60 minutes just to get of the estate in the morning, with traffic backed up all the way to Millbrook Junior School. And things aren't much better during teatime hours.
There's always been traffic problems on Bettws Lane during peak hours, but the problem has clearly gotten worse in recent years with the new high school, and additional houses being built on the already huge estate.
Is There a Solution?
Some people think that Bettws should get a direct link to the M4 motorway via Bettws Lane, however, with Morgans and Woodstock pond, Malpas cricket club, Newport High School and the new housing estate, Heol Senni in the way, its a highly unlikely option. Even if it was possible, you'd still have to navigate through farmers fields, woods, hills and floodplains to reach the M4 motorway.
In reality, creating an entirely new junction on the M4 motorway just to serve Bettws would not only be astronomical in cost, but it could also add to the traffic problems rather than easing them.
Any Other Options?
Though there is only one major way in and out of Bettws there are 3 country lanes that lead out of the estate. Unfortunately, these are just singletrack lanes that can't cope with a high volume of traffic.
Parc-Y-Brain road on the far side of Bettws connects up to Groes and Mescoed road which will either take you to Rogerstone or Cwmbran. You also have a second Lane, situated just a few metres away that takes you to the same road, just at a lower point.
Widening either one of these lanes wouldn't be beneficial, unless a large percentage of Bettws residents are travelling to a certain part of Rogerstone, which has its own traffic problems, or are travelling to a out-of-town scenic part of Cwmbran.
The last feasible option is Trawsmawr Lane which leads to Pentre Lane and then onto Llantarnam, Cwmbran. This Lane is by far the most popular option for people coming in and out of Bettws, when avoiding Bettws Lane.
The good thing about Trawsmawr Lane is that it's near enough in the middle of Bettws offering easy access for anybody who lives on the estate. However, again, it's just another single country lane that can't handle 2 flows of traffic until it reaches Pentre Lane. Pentre Lane also narrows as it reaches the small housing estate and the Three Blackbirds Inn towards the top. Even if cars could squeeze through the top end of Pentre Lane you'd then hit Newport Road, which can have long tailbacks during rush hour.
How about a New Road That Connects up with Cwmbran Drive?
Another plus point with Trawsmawr Lane and Pentre Lane is that it surrounded by acres of green fields. Providing that the Welsh government, or whoever is responsible for building new roads could purchase the land, both roads could be widened easily and diverted towards Cwmbran Drive, which would offer commuters the opportunity to either travel towards Cwmbran and beyond, or join the dual carriageway which would either take you to the centre of Newport or give you the opportunity to join the M4 motorway eastbound.
In fact, it's only Trawsmawr Lane, that would need to be widened, as the lower and central part of Pentre Lane is already wide enough for cars and heavy goods vehicles before it needs to be diverted off to join Cwmbran drive.
Sure, a new roundabout system would have to be incorporated into Cwmbran drive, but that shouldn't be an issue, as Cwmbran has some of the best free-flowing traffic in south-east Wales, with its barrage of roundabouts rather than traffic lights.
There will always be traffic problems on Bettws Lane, no matter what, but having a second major way in and out of the estate can only be a good thing, and will undoubtably ease traffic woes, especially for those travelling to centre of Cwmbran or those who need to join the A4042 dual carriageway.
And rather than the untenable direct M4 Bettws Lane junction there won't be any major environmental obstacles, and the cost of the new road would be fairly low and would open up new parts of Cwmbran for future development.