New bridge planned to cope with influx of visitors during 2023’s National Eisteddfod
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
A new £1.2m bridge to replace its damaged predecessor looks set to be built in Llŷn ahead of the expected influx during 2023’s National Eisteddfod.
The 19th Century Pont Bodfel spans the Afon Rhyd-hir river on the A497 between Efailnewydd and Boduan, historically carrying the main road from Nefyn to Pwllheli.
But it shut in January 2019 after being declared unsafe due to one of the arch pillars collapsing into the river below after being struck by a vehicle, which initially resulted in motorists facing an eight-mile detour.
A since-built temporary ‘Bailey’ road bridge means that vehicles are once again able to cross the river, but it continues to be confined to a single file.
But a planning application for a new and wider bridge will be presented to Gwynedd Council’s planning committee next week, which is being recommended for approval.
Options to widen the historic existing bridge were explored by experts but were found to be “logistically challenging”. Gwynedd Council is now proposing a new structure be built slightly down river while also keeping the repaired original.
Speaking last year Steffan Jones, Gwynedd Council’s Head of Highways and Municipal, said: “Pont Bodfel suffered significant structural damage caused by scouring damage under the bridge foundations.
“As it is a Grade Il three-span masonry bridge dating back to the early 19th Century, repairing it has been a major logistical challenge.
“As Pont Bodfel is a narrow one-lane bridge, we looked into whether it would have been possible to widen the structure as part of the maintenance work.
“However, after discussions with Cadw and conservation officers, it became apparent that this would not be possible.
“We have therefore decided to proceed with plans for a new 17 metre concrete arch bridge with a 3-metre rise over Afon Rhyd-hir.”
Built as a replacement for an earlier bridge in 1805, Pont Bodfel was awarded Grade-II listed status for being “a good example of a raised causeway bridge, particularly notable as being carefully laid out on a continuous curve.”
Constructed to the south of the existing Pont Bodfel, the proposed work will involve realigning the A497 and the approach, while also planning to carry out improvements to the nearby Gefail y Bont junction towards Llannor to merge safely with the new route.
Proposed to be a single-span 17m concrete arch with a 3m rise to match the height of the existing Pont Bodfel, the authority plans to use precast concrete spandrel walls that will be infilled with concrete and then clad with locally sourced masonry.
The application documents go on to state that the carriageway will be designed to accommodate 50mph speed of traffic and be 7.3m wide, with the plans having been slightly amended to meet the approval of Natural Resources Wales and authority biodiversity officers.
With the area hosting the 2023 National Eisteddfod on land nearby, the supporting documents says: “The new development will be an integral travel gateway to and from the Eisteddfod.
“Successful construction and completion before the Eisteddfod will ensure a convenient road link which could result in more visitors going off site and supporting local businesses during the Eisteddfod week.
“It’s proposed that the temporary bridge is removed as part of the initial phase of construction work for the new replacement bridge.
“During the construction, traffic will be routed over the old masonry bridge and will require traffic lights due to the narrowness of the carriageway over the bridge.”
A decision is expected when Gwynedd Council’s Planning Committee meets next Monday, November 1.
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