Warnings that month-long road closure will severely impact rural communities
Concerns have been raised in the Senedd that rural communities could be severely impacted if a proposed month-long road closure goes ahead in January.
Over the last few years, the Welsh Government has been carrying out building works on a new section of the A487 north of Machynlleth, Ceredigion including a new bridge across the River Dyfi.
The previous Pont-ar-Ddyfi bridge was not designed to carry the current volume of traffic and the road is often closed due to frequent flooding causing traffic to take a diversion of up to 30 miles.
Plans are in place to close the A493 near Pontarddyfi which connects Bro Dysynni and Pennal with northern parts of Ceredigion whilst work is carried out.
Residents living along the route have voiced concerns that they could become cut off from getting to work, school or attending hospital appointments in Aberystwyth.
Concerns have also been raised on how quickly emergency response vehicles can attend the communities if they need to.
In the Senedd this week, Plaid Cymru Senedd Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Mabon ap Gwynfor urged Rural Affairs minister, Lesley Griffiths to work with contractors to minimise disruption.
Mr ap Gwynfor called for work to complete the £46 million infrastructure project to be carried out during night-time hours and explore other options to mitigate impact on local communities.
He said: “The Minister will be aware that the bridge over the Dyfi river is about to open. But, in January, the A493 and the A487 near Pontarddyfi will be closed for almost a month, from 15 January onwards, as I understand it.’
“People in the area, particularly the Pennal and Bro Dysynni area, are extremely concerned that those roads are to be closed for a month.’
“It will have a detrimental impact on their ability to travel to hospital in Aberystwyth, for example, and on the ability of workers to cross over to Machynlleth and north Ceredigion. Pupils and students who want to travel over the bridge will also face difficulties.’
‘They are gravely concerned about the ability of ambulances to travel if there is an emergency in the Pennal area. So, what consideration have you given, or what pressure can you as a government bring to bear, in order to ensure that the road isn’t closed for all that time?’
“I wonder if it’s possible to ensure that the workforce working on the road could work at night, to ensure that the road could be open, or to come to another solution so that the road doesn’t have to be completely closed for over a month from 15 January onwards?’
Responding, Ms Griffiths said: “Well, we are aware of the concerns regarding the closure of the A493. The Welsh Government is working with the contractor, local authorities and stakeholders to ensure that all mitigation options are considered to minimise disruption.
“Specifically, I know the contractors’ public liaison officer is currently consulting with emergency services, local schools, social services and health centres to gather their views. That work is ongoing, and feedback received will be used by officials and the project team to ensure that appropriate mitigation proposals are in place during the road closure.”
Mr ap Gwynfor told Nation.Cymru he is seeking a meeting with the primary contractors to discuss these concerns and urge them to work with the communities to find a suitable situation.
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster Leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP said Welsh Government should be “mindful” of constituents when making arrangements.
She said: “Local people living in the communities most likely to be affected by this month-long road closure are understandably seeking clarity as to how they’ll be able to go about their daily life when their normal means of travel will be unavailable.’
“People are very worried about how they’ll reach hospital appointments in Aberystwyth for example, their children’s education, and what arrangements, if any, are in place for safe, emergency service access to those communities cut off by this closure.’
“I echo calls by my colleague Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, and urge the Welsh government to bring forward safe, alternative arrangements which are mindful of the need of my constituents to maintain timely access to local services.”
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