The Welsh Government is considering building a third crossing of the Menai Straits to improve access to Anglesey in north Wales.
The crossing is being discussed at a meeting between interested parties and economy and infrastructure secretary Ken Skates, said the Welsh government.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, yesterday Skates said the new crossing was the Welsh government’s preferred solution and that a new bridge had “obvious benefits”.
“I have long been clear in my commitment to a third Menai crossing, and the obvious benefits it would bring to local communities and the economy,” said Skates. “The current system is often at or over capacity and with major projects such as Wylfa Newydd [proposed nuclear power station] in the pipeline it’s imperative that we act quickly to look at how we can improve accessibility.”
He said upgrading and increasing capacity of the existing bridge had been looked into, but ruled out on safety grounds.
“We’ve looked in detail at all possible solutions to the existing Britannia Bridge, from providing three narrow lanes with tidal flow on the existing bridge to moving the eastbound merge to smooth traffic flow.
“These options have been ruled out following significant safety issues identified in risk assessments and concerns raised by the emergency services.”
With this in mind, the Welsh government said that it was now developing the bridge in consultation with interested parties and National Grid.
“As part of this process, we continue to explore with the National Grid opportunities for a combined road and cable crossing – something which could provide added benefits to the scheme for all concerned,” said Skates.
Mott MacDonald development director Stephen Lawrence said: “A third Menai Crossing would be welcome and would provide further resilience to the island of Anglesey, sending out a positive economic message to support it becoming ‘Energy Island’. Although rare, the current crossings can be affected by high winds preventing access to the island or leaving heavy goods vehicles stranded. During extreme weather events, a third crossing which combines road and cable access would provide an alternative option for those travelling to Anglesey.”
Plans for other upgrade projects in north Wales, including the A55, are also underway said Skates.
“The A55 has several multi million pound improvement schemes to improve resilience, reduce traffic delays, tackle pinch points and upgrade junctions already in progress, and the consultation into the £200m Deeside Corridor project almost under way.
“Alongside rail modernisation, our first Wales and Borders franchise and our plans for a North Wales Metro, these are exciting times for transport in North Wales. I’m keen to progress these projects at the earliest opportunity so that communities across North Wales can feel the benefits as soon as possible.”