New Caernarfon bypass to open a day later than planned due to Storm Eunice
The new Caernarfon and Bontnewydd bypass will now open to traffic on Saturday rather than today in order not to encourage any unnecessary travel during Storm Eunice.
Construction of the £139m scheme, built by the Balfour Beatty Jones Bros Joint Venture, began in 2019 with work continuing throughout the Covid-19 pandemic with safeguards in place to protect the workforce.
The road which is due to open in early 2022 was estimated to cost £113m in 2015, but the price had risen by the time work got underway, with some of the added costs blamed on the pandemic.
One of the largest recent infrastructure projects in the north of Wales, the 9.7km bypass runs from the Goat Roundabout on the A499/A487 to the Plas Menai roundabout.
Deputy Minister for Climate Change with responsibility for Transport Lee Waters said: “This projects represents a significant investment in the area by the Welsh Government and it is testimony to the local workforce that it has been completed ahead of time.
“As well as the road the project has created new links for walking and cycling which will improve the health and the environment of local communities.”
17 major structures were built as part of the scheme and 99% of the excavated materials were recycled and reused on the bypass. The project also includes improved active travel routes for walking and cycling in the area.
The scheme has provided a boost for the local economy with close to £70m spent with Welsh businesses of which £12m was spent on small to medium enterprises. £2m was also spent by the construction workforce in local shops, businesses and services during the construction period.
During the construction stage 93 per cent of the workforce came from the North Wales area, with 31 per cent living within a 10-mile radius. 36 graduates and apprentices were employed and trained while 15 people received work experience. An average of 160 people worked on the scheme at any one time during construction.
Measures have been put in place to minimise the environmental impact of the scheme to improve and enhance biodiversity in the area, including safe passages for wildlife. 170,000 plants, providing around 14 hectares of new native species, woodlands and scrub, as well as over 20 kilometres of new hedgerows were also planted.
Minister for North Wales Lesley Griffiths said: “This scheme is one of the largest recent infrastructure programmes in north Wales. It has been delivered ahead of time during an extremely challenging period.
“I congratulate all those involved for delivering this scheme during the pandemic, while keeping their workforce safe. It is a testament to the skills and commitment we have here in North Wales.”
Minister for Economy Vaughan Gething said: “The Caernarfon and Bontnewydd bypass has been a boost for the local economy during construction, providing opportunities for apprentices and graduates, while businesses and suppliers also benefited. In the long term the improved connectivity to Cibyn Industrial Estate, and wider afield, will be good for region’s economic growth.”
Jon Muff, Project Lead at Balfour Beatty Jones Bros said: “We are very grateful to the team for their hard work and dedication throughout the project, bringing together the skills and expertise across our joint venture to connect communities in Caernarfon and Bontnewydd whilst significantly reducing traffic congestion and improving journey times.
“We are proud of the legacy we are leaving behind, which includes considerable spend in the local area as well as training and upskilling dozens of people, including graduates and apprentices.”
Gwion Lloyd, a 22-year-old engineering apprentice from Harlech who has been on site since he started in 2019, said: “It has been excellent to learn so much on such a major project for the region, and I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my civil engineering career.
“It gives me great pride to know that the community, including family and friends, will be able to benefit from the bypass on a regular basis.”
The local Member of the Senedd and Member of Parliament, Siân Gwenllian and Hywel Williams, also welcomed the announcement.
“Finally, we will see the new road opening making journeys in the area more pleasant and vastly improving the lives of the people of Bontnewydd and Caernarfon who have campagined hard to get this project realised,” Siân Gwenllian said.
“The air will be cleaner, there will be less pollution, the streets will be quieter and the long summer traffic queues will soon become part of the past. Roads will be more pedestrian and cyclists friendly also.
“The scheme has been subject to delays and Hywel Williams MP and I supported local residents to ensure that the new road wasn’ton the back burner. We joined campaigners in Bontnewydd and I raised the matter in the Senedd on numerous occasions to ensure progress.”
MP Hywel Williams added: “Today will be met with relief by the people of Bontnewydd who have for far too long, endured the daily scourge of traffic congestion and miles upon miles of tailbacks causing gridlock, especially during the busy summer months.
“Our constituents have waited long enough for this bypass to open, enduring repeated setbacks, increased congestion and at times, a wall of silence from Welsh government.
“Without the determination of local campaigners and sustained political pressure from Plaid Cymru for many years, delivery of this project would have undoubtedly been subjected to further delays.
“The new bypass will be a huge boost to both our national and local economies and will further help economic recovery post-Covid. This project will strengthen our infrastructure, bringing long-term social benefits to our local communities.
“I’d like to pay tribute to Jones Bros and to all local contractors, workers and stakeholders involved in delivering this £139m investment, which has provided hundreds of local jobs and many apprenticeships during the construction phase.”
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.