Work to upgrade the A494 River Dee crossing – which will include a new crossing and the ‘partial’ re-use of the existing crossing could get underway within two years.
Plans have taken a further step forward today as Transport and North Wales Minister Ken Skates announced the preferred option has been confirmed.
This follows a 12-week consultation which showed strong support for the preferred option to upgrade the bridge.
The River Dee Bridge, which was built in 1960, is a vital link between North Wales and the North West of England.
It carries approximately 61,000 vehicles a day, connecting people, communities and business to the A55.
The Welsh Government says that due to the age of the bridge there is deterioration to some structural features and it would be difficult to maintain long-term.
[The upgrade is a key part of the Welsh Government’s plans to improve transport infrastructure and resilience in North Wales.]
Three lanes into two just doesn’t go…
A major improvement scheme which aimed to address congestion within the Flintshire corridor was shelved following a Public Inquiry in 2007.
The Minister for Economy and Transport at the time Ieuan Wyn Jones agreed with a Planning Inspector’s recommendation that the scheme should not proceed any further due to the impact on the local community.
This has led to a major ‘pinch point’ on the A494 where three lanes merge into two on the westbound carriageway prior to the bridge, the merging lanes cause lengthy tailbacks at peak times.
Further work has been undertaken to look at options to increase capacity within the A494/A55 corridor which led to the announcement in 2017 of the so-called ‘Red Route.’
It aims to increase capacity on the existing A548 with a new road link to the A55 at Northop, this proposal does not include plans to replace the A494 River Dee Bridge.
The Red Route is intended to ease congestion within the Deeside corridor and the next steps are currently being taken to develop a preliminary design.
The Preferred Option…
The Preferred Option will include a new river crossing for westbound traffic and the partial reuse of the existing River Dee Bridge for eastbound traffic.
Three lanes and a hard shoulder will extend from the River Dee to Queensferry junction which will include a new offline carriageway for westbound traffic.
“This will minimise disruption during construction by maintaining current traffic flows.” The Welsh Government says.
The option also includes a new cycle and pedestrian path which will help to encourage active travel and improve links within business zones
It will improve safety, provide greater resilience and enhance journey time reliability on this key route into North Wales.
Transport Minister Ken Skates said: “The A494 is a key economic artery for North Wales, linking it to the North West of England and further afield.
“This upgrade of the River Dee Bridge is vital in ensuring that the route is fit for the future, reliable and resilient. It is a key part of our wide-ranging plans to invest in transport improvements across North Wales.
“It will improve access to businesses, provide more opportunities for cycling and walking, and enhance the local environment.
“I’m pleased that following consultation on the preferred option we can now move ahead to the next stage which will be the publication of draft orders, expected later this year.”
Work on the preliminary design will now continue with draft Orders and Environmental Statement programmed to be published for comment this autumn.
Public exhibitions will also be held at this time.
Construction could begin in 2021 subject to gaining all the necessary statutory consents.