Tmnk Road Policy in Wales 1967-78 IAN THOMAS Department of Politics, University of Strathclyde Introduction: An Outline of Policy and Underlying Assumptions The outstanding characteristic of central government trunk road policy in Wales over the last decade and a half has been the growing emphasis on the development of strategic through routes, linking the different parts of Wales to the motorway network in England1. The routes to which highest priority has been given by successive governments are the main East-West in South Wales (M4/A48/A40) from the Severn Bridge to West of Carmarthen and in North Wales (A55/A5) from Chester to Bangor and Holyhead. There has been a shift of emphasis from more local, piecemeal improvements to the concept of a few fast, high capacity roads running right through the main areas of population and industry in Wales and linking them to major centres in England. The construction of the A465 Heads of the Valleys road from (then) Hirwaun to Abergavenny in the early 1960s could be seen as an earlier and less thoroughgoing example of this more comprehensive approach. The energy crises and recurring fin- ancial difficulties of recent years have been accompanied by some lowering of sights. Improvements proposed for some of the East- West routes in predominantly rural areas are now less ambitious than in the late sixties and early seventies. At the same time, on paper, greater importance has been accorded to the A470 North-South road from Glan Conwy to Cardiff (Figure 1). In 'Wales: The Way Ahead' (Welsh Office, 1967) the main trans- port emphasis was on comprehensive improvement of roads to im- prove the accessibility of Wales from England and enhance its potent- ial for industrial development. In specific terms this amounted to plans for developing the main East-West routes to dual carriageway standard. Substantial improvements to most other East-West trunk roads, and certain parts of North-South roads in more heavily pop- ulated areas were also planned. Since then the broad pattern of the proposed network improvements has not changed dramatically. The emphasis on the East-West coastal routes in the South (M4/A48/ A40) and the North (A55/ A5) has become more marked (Welsh Office 1978, para. 11). In 1967 the trunk road programme for Wales was based on think- ing which, essentially, encompassed two main aims: solving existing perceived problems of delay, congestion and other impediments to the free flow of traffic; and improving communications to growth