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11:00 - 06 March 2006
The amount of time lost by commuters stuck in traffic jams in the Bristol area is costing the local economy a staggering 350 million a year. Workers now spend a quarter of their journey time to and from work waiting in stationary traffic queues and the problem is set to get worse, according to a new report going to the city council this week.

The city's horrendous traffic congestion has been blamed on a lack of investment over the last 20 years, despite massive growth in jobs and house building.

The 350 million cost to the area's economy is calculated according to the amount of time wasted when commuters and delivery vans are late because they have been stuck in traffic. The price of fuel and maintenance costs for vehicles is also added to the equation.

The problems facing the former Avon area are set out in the Joint Local Transport Plan, which looks ahead to the next five years and at possible long-term solutions for the next 20 to 30 years for Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset.

The report says that 300 million needs to be spent urgently to make up for under-investment in roads and transport if Bristol's economy is to continue to grow.

Bristol's productivity is second only to London in the UK and is currently the 34th highest in Europe - ahead of Berlin, Madrid and Rome. But the city's success in attracting new investment and jobs could be blunted if it fails to tackle its growing congestion problem.

One of the worst congestion blackspots is the north fringe of Bristol, where more than 30,000 jobs have been created at Aztec West and Almondsbury business parks, and the MoD headquarters at Abbey Wood - with virtually no investment in roads or public transport.

The Joint Local Transport Plan, which goes before the council on Thursday, said it was vital to invest in better public transport if Bristol is to remain the economic powerhouse of the South West.

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