The Welsh Government is to consider a myth-based bridge concept for the new Menai Strait bridge project, connecting the Welsh mainland with Anglesey.
Mott McDonald chartered civil engineer Benji Poulton, from Bangor in north-west Wales, has submitted his design, featuring a giant statue of the ancient Welsh king Bendigeidfran.
The Welsh government is developing plans for a new bridge over the Menai Strait to relieve congestion on the two existing crossings. Consultation on the route of the bridge opened in December 2017 with the ‘‘purple route’’ (see below) chosen as the popular option.
The purple route runs to the east of the existing Britannia Bridge from Anglesey and the Welsh mainland, and will relieve congestion on the A55.
Poulton told New Civil Engineer that he was “underwhelmed” by the designs submitted to the Welsh Government.
He argued that the new bridge should “enhance the landscape in the same way the other two [existing] bridges did”.
Poulton proposes using one of the already submitted designs incorporating the Bendigeidfran statue into the main support pier.
“It is completely achievable, split supports and curved concrete supports are already found in many bridges, all we would really be doing is adding a head,” he said.
The statue could be constructed in sections and mounted around the central bridge as a façade or cladding, similar to the Statue of Liberty. Or the statue could be fully structural, like the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio.
“The façade could be cast from several varieties and colours of structural concrete already used in bridge construction so that it could weather the extreme conditions of its placement in the Strait,” Poulton said.
Poulton’s design and placement of the statue mean it would be visible from all the existing viewpoints across the strait, lining up with the two existing bridges.
Poulton’s design will work perfectly with the existing bridges and their view points
Source: Pont Bendigeidfran / Benji Poulton
His design features a giant statue of Bendigeidfran, an ancient Welsh king featured in the Mabinogion tales, standing in the strait, holding the bridge deck above his head with his hands.
In the tale, the giant Bendigeidfran waded across the Menai strait on his way to Ireland to save his sister. When the Irish burned the bridges, he lay his body over a great river to allow his men to cross, uttering “A fo ben, bid bont” (“He who would be a leader, let him be a bridge”).
Poulton’s design won the Welsh regional final of the ICE’s Pitch 200 competition. He then submitted it as a petition to the Welsh Government to be considered alongside the other submissions.
Support for the idea has been ‘snowballing’ on social media, Poulton told New Civil Engineer.
I spoke at the @ICEWalesCymru AGM last night about engineers considering solutions differently, and here it is. Absolutely epic design, cultural and technical thinking : 3rd Menai Crossing - Pont Bendigeidfran https://t.co/NyTCGIuaJl via @YouTube— Matt Jones (@mattjonescardif) October 26, 2018
Been to see the Lions with the youngest, and popped down to the front near the Britannia to try to imagine what a huge statue of Bendigeidfran might look like here @BendigeidfranPt - I’m thinking ace! pic.twitter.com/fxsG0FzB2l— Gareth Roberts (@goggzy5isalive) September 5, 2018
Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones said earlier this month that: “There is very strong case for increasing capacity across the Menai and I am delighted the Welsh Government is taking action to address the issue.”
A government spokesperson has said “all options” for the bridge will be considered.
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