Works to repair Menai Suspension Bridge begin
Works to repair and reopen the Menai Suspension Bridge have begun after its sudden closure over safety concerns last year.
The bridge which links Anglesey to the mainland was abruptly closed last October following fears that a structural issue posed a risk to public safety.
The closure of the almost 200-year-old bridge designed by Thomas Telford led to large tailbacks and disruption on both sides of the Menai Strait as cars used the remaining Britannia bridge.
The Welsh Government and UK Highways A55 Ltd, alongside engineering firms Spencer Group and COWI, have worked together to codevelop an emergency plan to reopen the bridge safely.
The programme will begin with the installation of the emergency works to the west side of the bridge before completing the works on the eastern side.
Package of support
While the emergency plan was being developed, additional maintenance works, including the resurfacing of the road, were brought forward to minimise future disruption for residents and businesses of Ynys Mon and north Wales.
The Deputy Minister for Climate Change with responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “I am pleased that together with our partners, we have been able to press ahead at pace with this extremely important and complex piece of work on the Menai Suspension Bridge.
“In the meantime, the package of support to ease the transport pressures on people travelling to and from Ynys Mon remains in place and I am grateful to residents in the area for their patience as work on the Menai Suspension Bridge continues.”
Plans to build a third crossing over the Menai Strait were originally estimated at £130m and would take two years to construct.
But Deputy Climate Change Minister, Lee Waters said that a third crossing could cost £400m and take seven years to build.
“Deprioritising the people of north Wales”
Following the sudden closure of Menai Suspension Bridge last year, Anglesey’s Conservative MP Virginia Crosbie accused the Welsh Government of deprioritising north Wales.
In the House of Commons, Virginia Crosbie asked: “Does the Leader of the House agree that the Welsh Labour Government should be prioritising the maintenance of key transport links, not increasing the number of politicians?”
Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt answered: “My honourable friend is right, and this is another example of the Welsh Labour Government’s deprioritising the people of north Wales.
“I heard about the bridge closure, which is outrageous, but she is doing everything she should in her work on getting a freeport and on championing nuclear power and infrastructure to support that industry.”
The programme of works to re-open the bridge will begin today and are scheduled to be complete within 4 weeks.
During the Christmas period, businesses in the town of Porthaethwy were concerned about the bridge’s closure would impact trade at the busiest time of the year.
Business owners in the town said that signage indicating the bridge’s closure implied the town itself is closed.
Plus39 café owner, Jane Walsh said: “As a town we are in contact with highways to change that, to say that the suspension bridge is closed, or the Telford bridge. Phrase it in a different way.”
A spokesperson from UK Highways A55 Ltd said: “We recognise the disruption and difficult circumstances that the closure of the Menai Suspension Bridge has caused for the local community.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience while an emergency solution was developed to resolve this unprecedented issue. We want to thank everyone for their hard work to deliver this solution so quickly, especially the resiliency of the residents of Ynys Mon and North Wales.”
“Finding a solution to this very unique problem posed a number of complex engineering challenges. We worked extremely closely with UK Highways, the Welsh Government, and the wider project team of engineers to fully understand the issues and constraints, to allow us to develop a solution that is safe and robust for bridge users, and the structure itself, in the fastest possible timescale.”
The emergency package of support to mitigate the impacts to local businesses is still available and free parking will remain at car parks in Menai Bridge town and at the two park and share sites throughout January.
To assist with the loss of bus services on the island following the closure of the bridge, the council has provided additional stops closer to the Menai Suspension Bridge.
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.