Preferred third Menai crossing announced by first minister
The move to build a third crossing between Anglesey and the Welsh mainland has taken a major step forward, with the naming of the preferred route.
The so-called ‘purple route’ over the Menai Strait, was announced by the First Minister Carwyn Jones, and would see a new bridge built to the east of the existing Britannia Bridge.
Facilities for pedestrians and cyclists will also be included.
Plans for a third crossing have been in the works since a consultation in 2007.
Four option were put out to consultation at the end of last year for bridges east or west of the Britannia Bridge.
Making the announcement on Anglesey, Mr Jones said the purple route provided the highest economic benefits and high value for money.
It was also the most popular choice in the public consultation, selected by 25% of respondents as their first choice.
Mr Jones said there was a “very strong case” for increasing capacity across the Menai.
He said: “The A55 is important locally, nationally and internationally. It provides the main economic artery for north Wales and connects the region with the rest of Wales, the UK and Europe.
“The Britannia Bridge is the only section of the route which is single carriageway and we know this reduction in lanes leads to congestion at peak times and during the tourist seasons.”
Mr Jones added: “Based on the appraisal undertaken on the options, the purple option performs best and would be vital in improving journey times, strengthening the A55’s resilience, and ensuring safer travel across the Menai Strait.
“It will also provide economic benefits and ensure the route is fit for purpose as traffic volume is expected to increase over the years to come.”
A procurement exercise will now take place to appoint technical advisors to develop the preliminary design.
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Economy Secretary Ken Skates said the purple option provided an opportunity to “develop a crossing which would allow people to seamlessly cross the Menai Strait and support future projects such as Wylfa Newydd”.
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Mr Skates said: “We fully understand the sensitivity of placing a new crossing over the Menai Strait and further visualisation assessment and analysis work will now take place before the bridge type is selected and taken forward to the next stage of scheme development.”
The Welsh Government said the cost of the structure was dependent on this analysis. An earlier estimate of cost was put at £135m.