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New bridge to be built before Eisteddfod after 19th century predecessor collapses

03 Nov 2021 3 minute read
The damaged 19th Century Pont Bodfel.

Gareth Wyn Williams, local democracy reporter

Councillors have unanimously backed plans for a new £1.2m bridge on the Llŷn Peninsula after one arch on its 19th century predecessor collapsed into the river below.

Pont Bodfel was declared unsafe in 2019 after the collapse happened following being struck by a vehicle.

Spanning the Afon Rhyd-hir river on the A497 between Efailnewydd and Boduan, historically carrying the main road from Nefyn to Pwllheli, its closure initially resulted in motorists facing an eight mile detour.

A temporary bridge was built shortly thereafter, but now looks set to be replaced with a £1.2m permanent structure after being given the planning go-ahead.

With Gwynedd Council planning for the new structure to be in place ahead of the expected influx generated by the 2023 National Eisteddfod, its Grade-II listed predecessor looks to be retained for the use of walkers.

Meeting on Monday, Gwynedd Council’s Planning Committee was told that while the temporary ‘Bailey’ road bridge means that vehicles are once again able to cross the river, traffic lights remain at the site as it continues to be confined to a single file.

Options to widen the historic existing bridge were explored by experts, but were found to be “logistically challenging,” leading to its wider replacement just down river.

‘Nasty bridge’

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.

Members were told that there was “little choice” but to build a new structure to cope with the demands of modern transport needs.
Cllr Owain Williams said: “As someone from Dwyfor I welcome these proposals, which are very much needed.

“It’s been quite a nasty bridge, quite dangerous, and those visiting the National Eisteddfod will find it a very handy addition I’m sure.”

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 stated that the carriageway will be designed to accommodate 50mph speed of traffic and be 7.3m wide, with plans slightly amended to meet the approval of Natural Resources Wales and authority biodiversity officers.

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