Plea to speed up plans for third A55 lane over the Menai Bridge
Welsh Government asked to act now to try and combat snarl ups on the traffic-clogged bridge
Transport minister Edwina Hart has agreed officials should examine more short term measures to combat the snarl-ups which regularly delay journeys to and from Anglesey .
Rush hour drivers often take more than 10 minutes to travel just a quarter of a mile over the bridge. Longer term proposals for a third bridge over the Strait, estimated to cost £100m, are years away, as capital budgets are squeezed.
Some travelling from Anglesey have now started using a new park and share scheme to reduce traffic .
The revised National Transport Plan to 2015 sets out a work plan to review the options to increase the capacity of the A55 across the Menai, including for walkers and cyclists. Ynys Mon AM Ieuan Wyn Jones questioned the minister in the Senedd yesterday over the prospects for a new bridge, and whether she could outline a timetable for design work.
Ms Hart said officials were investigating options to increase the capacity on the A55 across the Menai Strait, particularly for walkers and cyclists, according to the National Transport Plan.
She stopped short of setting out a timetable for preparatory work on a new bridge, adding: “We do have to look at some short term measures. My officials are currently looking across Wales in terms of pinch points with forward work in certain of those areas.”
It is six years since a consultation by the Welsh Government came up with eight options – two for a new bridge.
“It’s reported that consultants would be appointed by the Welsh Government later this year to review proposals and a bridge, however, may be just one of the proposals which have to be compared in more detail alongside others. When would you expect the preferred option,” he asked.
Mrs Hart said “I think we have to look at this strategically. I have asked officials to see if we can make this work go a little bit fasterin terms of how we can look at things. I’ll drop you a line when I get a clearer timetable.” Ynys Môn AM Mr Jones, a former transport minister, said later: “There is no doubt that the cuts in capital budgets are having an impact on most roads schemes. What we have got to do is keep them doing the work on plans for a third crossing.”
He was encouraged by a commitment to look at other measures to alleviate traffic chaos: “In the past we have looked at three lanes over the bridge and at traffic flows to manage better the exits and entrances to the road on Anglesey.”
MP for Anglesey Albert Owen said the island needed an extra crossing, whether a new bridge or an enhancement to the existing bridges and efforts should be made to attract EU structural funding.
“But in the short and medium term a third lane on the existing Britannia Bridge should be examined further. A third crossing would be a long way off so I would like to see improvements to the current links, with traffic management and a possible third lane on the Britannia Bridge.”