New £20m road and rail bridge plan for Penrhyndeudraeth
A £20m road and rail bridge will be built to replace a Grade II listed wooden toll-bridge at Pont Briwet near Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd.
The current privately-owned structure, built in 1860, carries the Cambrian Coast Railway and a narrow road track which only carries cars.
Lorries and buses face an extra eight-mile (12km) road trip from Penrhyndeudraeth to the Harlech road.
Construction of the new bridge is due to start in 2012.
It should be completed within two years.
The new bridge is a joint project between Network Rail, Gwynedd Council, Snowdonia National Park and Countryside Council for Wales.
Gwynedd councillor Dewi Lewis said the new crossing, across the Afon Dwyryd, would improve the economy of the area, and cut down on considerable inconvenience.
"This is a delicate site environmentally and everybody has been working very closely together to bring this to fruition," he added.
A spokesperson for Network Rail said the multi-million pound plan aimed to provide "a robust integrated transport infrastructure fit for the 21st century and beyond".
It was at the "early stage of design", she said.
"Once the design is completed, it will be submitted for planning approval and we welcome the support from passengers, residents and the business community, who will become the biggest beneficiaries of this investment," she added.
Local people, who have paid 40p each time they need to cross the bridge, also welcome the new link.
"I can't believe it is going to happen at last," said Frances Griffiths.
"We've waited so long for this to happen and now there's hope at least - it should have happened years ago," she added.
Ela Wyn Jones called it "marvellous" news.
"The alternative road through Maentwrog is very difficult and dangerous," she said.
According to Llyr Williams, managing director of the GEWS waste disposal company at Penrhyndeudraeth, the new bridge will save hours of extra driving, as well as diesel.
"It's going to make a massive difference to us, especially with the type of work we do," he said.
"Going round through Maentwrog is an extra eight miles, just one way, but when you make that trip four to five times in a day it quickly mounts up, both in time and diesel.
"I'm very pleased with this announcement," he added.