Filed Under:

Exasperating Detour Drives One Brit To Build His Own Road

Play associated audio

Most people have been frustrated at least once in their driving lives by construction delays and detours.

But when a road closure in England took drivers on a especially long detour, a local businessman took matters into his own hands.

Mike Watts decided to build his own road, along a much shorter route. Then he opened it up to the public, charging about $3.30 a car.

Watts lives in a village between Bath and Bristol. The road that closed once got him to town in eight minutes. He says the 14-mile detour took him an hour and 20 minutes — sometimes longer.

"It was nose-to-tail all along the 14 miles," he says.

Watts says a farmer started letting a few residents bypass the detour through his fields, but then someone discovered what was happening and tweeted that there was a short cut.

"Before [the farmer] knew what was happening, he was having hundreds of cars going through his field," Watts says.

Over a pint at the pub, Watts told the farmer he could build him a road.

"We shook hands there and then, and they built the road within 10 days."

But not before he ran the idea, and the cost — 150,000 pounds, or about $250,000 — by his wife.

"I said to her, 'Right, now, we haven't got 150,000 pounds, but we have got that in equity in our house, so if you want to make the gamble, you just tell me and I'll build this road just to keep you happy,' " Watts says.

The road is close to getting the 150,000 cars it needs to break even, he says.

"I think we're on target to not just cover our costs; we might make a little bit of profit out of it as well," he says. "I've got to tell you, the stress of building a road, if we do make a profit, I think I'm going to deserve it!"

Watts says he knows the road is a huge success: "We are now on Google maps. It's wonderful."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Aviator Beryl Markham Soars Again In 'Paris Wife' Author's New Book

"It is my fate to illuminate the lives of these one-of-a-kind notable women that have been somehow forgotten by history," says Paula McClain. She shines her spotlight on Markham in Circling the Sun.
NPR

At The Purple Pie Place, Where The Crusts Are Just Sweet Enough

Bobkat's Purple Pie Place is a fixture in Custer, S.D. From chicken pot pie to strawberry rhubarb, Trevor Yehlie and his family have been baking and serving pies at the local favorite since 2009.
NPR

SuperPACs Report Their Funds — And The Numbers Are Staggering

SuperPACs released their latest funding numbers Friday, and already it's clear that the committees' roles in 2016 will be gargantuan.
NPR

Despite Host Controversy, Amazon Takes A Chance On 'Top Gear'

The trio that made Top Gear the world's biggest car show will return to the small screen in a new show for Amazon Prime. The BBC canned one of its hosts last year after a fight with a producer.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.