A farmer in England opened up his fields to frustrated commuters earlier this year when a construction detour was going to take them several miles out of their way. But after people started getting stuck in the mud, he and a businessman teamed up to do something else instead.
John Dinham, the owner of Roundhill Farm in Somerset, allowed a businessman to build a toll road through his land and it just opened last week.
According to Farmer’s Weekly, the “Kelson Toll Road” is the first private toll road built in the U.K. in more than a century.
Mike Watts, the businessman from Bath who came up with the idea and financed road, told the Guardian that he met Dinham at a bar one night where he learned the farmer was letting those with four-wheel drive plow across. After word got out though, the farmer complained that some without four-wheel drive were going through and getting stuck in mud, requiring him to tow them out.
Watts proposed the idea of an official toll road that night.
Since opening Friday, it has already gotten rave reviews.
“It’s just 100 percent positive feedback from the people that have already used it,” Watts told Farmer’s Weekly. “It is saving them a 14-mile detour in most cases.”
“I think the toll road is amazing — I applaud the entrepreneurial spirit of those who were involved in constructing it,” commuter Adam Griffiths told the Bristol Post. “It’s been horrendous while the main road has been shut. Lots of people have been using shortcuts through Upton Cheyney, but it’s so narrow. I work in Bath and take my daughter to nursery there so will be using this toll road every day.”
A car or van has to pay £2, or about $3.37, to pass through on the road, which is a little over four football fields in length, at a max speed of 10 mph. Farmer’s Weekly reported that cameras will monitor the road at all times.
The local city council did not support the road because it was made without permission. However, Watts added that he is submitting an application to the council.
“The council is not in a position to support the temporary road option as we have not been provided with any evidence or information to support the application,” a spokesman for the Bath and North East Somerset Council told the U.K. farming website. “The council has no details to confirm the toll road design meets safety standards and no evidence that insurances are in place for any member of the public who use the private toll road.”
Take a look at this aerial footage of the toll road cutting through the farm:
According to the Bristol Post, the main route, which is a major road linking Bristol and Bath, has already been closed for six months and is not expected to reopen until December.
Watts told the Guardian that while he thinks revenue from the toll road will cover its cost, he doesn’t think it will make a profit on the road. If it does bring in anything extra, the spoils will be split between him and the Dinham.
Watch Watts talk about the road: