The Britannia Bridge, which carries both the railway and the A55 road across the Menai Straight between the Welsh mainland and the island of Anglesey, is set for a major refurbishment, commencing 17 February 2021.
Designed and built by Robert Stephenson in 1850, the Grade II-listed bridge was originally a tubular, wrought-iron structure that carried just the railway. However, a major fire, set by boys playing in the tubular span in 1970, damaged the bridge beyond repair.
It was rebuilt in stages as a double-deck structure with a new road crossing on top and reinforcing arches underneath. First reopened for rail traffic in 1972, the bridge was finally completed in 1980.
The latest works are to refurbish the three land towers. Contractor AmcoGiffen will install 36 fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) support beams underneath the 24 stone lintels at the top of the three towers along the bridge, which are named Anglesey, Britannia and Caernarfon. This will give the structure additional support.
Kevin Collins, Network Rail project director for Wales, commented: “This bridge is not only a critical transport link but also a famous part of North Wales’ heritage and its landscape. These important works will help to keep it looking its best and doing its job for generations to come.”
Scaffolding will be built up the sides of the towers from the rail deck level to help minimise disruption to traffic on the road. There will be no impact to rail services.
However, one lane on the A55 will be closed while the scaffolding is erected, there may be some short (20 minute) complete road closures and a 40mph speed limit will be in force through the works.
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales in the Welsh Government, added: “This work is of vital importance and I am grateful to Network Rail and AmcoGiffen for their sensitive approach to minimising the disruption to road and rail traffic across the Britannia Bridge.
“It will ensure the well-known structure can continue carrying out its duty of connecting Ynys Mon and the Welsh mainland.”