Campaigners call for new measures to deal with traffic congestion after Menai Bridge closure
A spokesperson for the Welsh branch of the Transport Action Network, TAN Cymru, has said that the sudden closure of the Menai Suspension Bridge presents an opportunity to trial new measures to alleviate traffic congestion in the area.
The bridge linking Anglesey to the mainland was shut suddenly last Friday, with the Welsh Government stating that emergency maintenance work was required to fix a structural issue.
The closure of the almost 200-year-old bridge, designed by Thomas Telford, means cars must use the remaining Britannia bridge. This has lead to large tailbacks on both sides of the Menai Strait, especially at peak times and in particular around Ysbyty Gwynedd.
It could now be closed until early next year.
Responding to the closure TAN has called for a “quick and effective response” to the problem with public transport, car sharing and cycling schemes being implemented ‘immediately’ to reduce the strain on the roads.
Paula Renzel from TAN, said: “This closure, while disruptive, highlights the need for measures to be brought in to reduce the amount of traffic using the bridge.
“This is an emergency, just like the climate emergency, and the response needs to be quick and effective. Better options for people to walk, cycle, car share and use public transport need to be implemented immediately.
“Novel solutions such as temporary bus priority measures, more bus and rail services could all help alleviate the strain on the road.
“If this is done well, it could provide a model for lasting change that improves things for everyone. This would benefit the economies of Gwynedd and Anglesey and positively impact peoples’ quality of life, while also taking the necessary steps to address climate change.”
“The North Wales Transport Commission are currently investigating what can be done to solve traffic issues across North Wales more broadly, but their conclusions are not expected to be published for some time. With the current situation requiring more urgent interventions, the Commission may nevertheless have ideas as to what could be done in the short term.”
On Tuesday Ynys Môn Senedd Member Rhun ap Iorwerth called on the Welsh Government to act quickly to ensure that the bridge is re-opened at the earliest opportunity, and to proceed with the construction of a mooted third bridge over the Menai.
He added that he was particularly concerned about the impact of the closure on emergency services, saying: “It is difficult to overstate the impact of closing the Menai bridge on my constituents.”
Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters, who is responsible for roads, said that a third bridge would not provide an answer in the near future.
“It would cost somewhere in the order of £400 million,” he said. “That’s the current estimate.
“Even were we to start to build it now, the process takes somewhere around seven years. These things are expensive and slow. So, we will be asking Burns to address the issue of resilience in the longer term, and that report will be available next year.”
Mr Waters added that there were also shorter-term contingency plans being drafted, and initial options in this plan include the options to:
- increase park-and-ride facilities,
- create potential stacking site options
- review the rail use to and from the island.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.