North West Wales

Pont Briwet bridge closed over safety as £20m crossing built

Pont Briwet Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Pont Briwet was a single-lane toll road which also carried a railway line

A Grade II-listed wooden bridge in Gwynedd is to close permanently as work continues on a new £20m road and rail crossing.

Pont Briwet over the Afron Dwyryd river at Penrhyndeudraeth was due to stay open while construction took place.

But the 154-year-old bridge was closed last month over safety fears and will not now reopen, Gwynedd council said.

Motorists will now have an 8m (12km) diversion via Maentwrog to the Harlech road while buses will replace trains.

A temporary road bridge will open in May 2014 with the new crossing due to be completed by 2015. Network Rail said train services will resume from 'Spring 2014'.

Gwynedd council said every effort had been made to keep Pont Briwet open for as long as possible.

Inconvenience

"We have had to come to the reluctant conclusion that there is no option but to close the road bridge with immediate effect as it is no longer fit for public use," said Councillor Gareth Roberts, Gwynedd council's cabinet member for environment.

"We appreciate that this will cause temporary inconvenience for local people and our focus now will be to work with the contractors and all project partners to ensure that the temporary road bridge opens as soon as possible."

Dafydd Wyn Williams, the council's chief engineer for street care and transportation, said the bridge was being closed for safety reasons.

"Over the past few months there have been a deterioration in its condition and the road has been temporarily closed to traffic since 20 December," he said.

"During the Christmas holidays a number of large potholes appeared on the carriageway.

'Absolute priority'

"This together with inadequate edge restraints and uncertainty of the load capacity of the bridge has necessitated the permanent closure of Pont Briwet," he added.

Network Rail, which looks after the rail infrastructure, said it understood the inconvenience it would cause, but safety was the "absolute priority".

"Following examinations, we found that the only option to complete the new bridge was to keep the railway line closed until the new structure is in place," Mark Langman, route managing director for Wales, said.

Until the new bridge opens Arriva Trains Wales will run an amended timetable with all northbound services from Machynlleth terminating in Harlech.

Coaches and minibuses will take people to Penrhydeudraeth, Porthmadog, Criccieth and Pwllheli and road transport will also be available to take passengers from these locations to connect with southbound trains that will start from Harlech.

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