Anglesey: Menai Bridge to reopen next week
The Welsh Government has confirmed the Menai Bridge is set to reopen next Thursday (2 February), with permanent repair work needed on the 200-year-old structure scheduled to start in late summer.
Menai Bridge is one of two bridges connecting Anglesey with mainland Wales. It was suddenly closed without prior notice by Welsh Government on 21 October due to safety concerns by structural engineers.
Speaking with Nation.Cymru this morning, Ynys Môn MS Rhun ap Iorwerth, having just been briefed by Welsh Government officials and contractors from UK Highways A55 Ltd, said: “The work to put temporary measures in place is running on schedule and the bridge is expected to be open before the end of next week.
“It will reopen with that 7.5 tonne limit again (which) was put in place last summer because of concerns around the bridge. It was another few months before they closed it.”
Mr ap Iorwerth said: “These have been a difficult few months for us and we can’t move quickly enough to see the reopening of the bridge. We still need to be pressing for support for businesses who really have suffered during this period.”
As regards the permanent work that still needs to be done, Mr ap Iorwerth explained: “I don’t think we are expecting this work to start before the end of next summer. They will want to avoid coinciding with the busiest times – peak tourist season.”
The further permanent work which is needed is yet to be scheduled, but will likely involve traffic lights and singe lane restrictions, rather than complete closure again, according to Mr ap Iorwerth.
“Of course, they want to make sure that during that time we don’t see the kind of destruction we have seen (up to now).”
The temporary work which is coming to an end, involves installing secondary failsafe solutions in place because of the concerns over the brittleness of the hanger sockets, explained Mr ap Iorwerth.
“So, it’s a strengthening of the 106 of these hangers using a temporary solution. Basically, putting steel wires in place. The permanent fix will replace those hanger sections.”
After the permanent work is finished the 7.5 tonne restriction will be scrapped and the Menai Bridge will be able to carry the usual load, he said.
In the long term, are there likely to be any supply chain issues down to Brexit or other reasons?
“We understand that these parts are not something that you can buy off the shelf. The measures that have been put in place now has had to be designed, built and installed as a temporary measure.
“The next stage will be putting together the permanent design” explained Mr ap Iorwerth.
“I can’t comment whether there are specific supply chain problems, or what may cause those supply chain problems. But we would probably be expecting to wait a few months before we start anyway, in reality.
“And we have to look towards the long term and the need to ensure that this never happens again. We (need) a more resilient crossing over the Menai Straight and that has to include, I think, a new bridge to take the pressure off both current bridges.”
Both the Menai Bridge and the Britannia Bridge connecting Anglesey with mainland Wales, “are approaching 200 years old” said Mr ap Iorwerth.
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