The controversial planned closure of the Wye Bridge for a five-week period has been postponed.
As this newspaper went to press, Monmouthshire County Council confirmed that the full closure of the vital link between Monmouth and its neighbouring county, originally scheduled for October 16 onwards, has been put back to the spring of 2024.
The complete closure was to allow for essential work involving the removal of the road surface to the depth of 10cm.
During that period, the bridge would still be open to pedestrians and cyclists who may have to dismount, but no vehicles were to be allowed. However, now the decision has been made to postpone the order after the council was unable to proceed due to a “non-compliant tender”.
A spokesman for the council said: “The need for a major investment to improve the condition of the Wye Bridge is widely appreciated by residents and businesses in Monmouth and surrounding areas.
“The criticality of the Wye Bridge as a key part of the travel network means that finding a way to resurface the Wye Bridge with minimal disruption will always be a challenge. This is made more difficult given the bridge’s age and unique structure.
Monmouthshire County Council would like to reassure residents and businesses that their concerns and needs will be respected and considered, and every effort will be made to minimise disruption to people’s lives when the works take place.
Monmouthshire County Council also confirmed that it was mindful of other major infrastructure improvement projects in Monmouth, notably extensive work by Welsh Water on their infrastructure.
“These works are expected to commence in September. Details can be found at www.dwrcymru.com/en/help-advice/in-your-area
The Council will review the new timings to minimise the impact of disruption to residents and businesses where possible. Based on the need to go out to tender again, the very earliest that the works are likely to be able to proceed will be spring 2024.
“The Council is still being advised by our engineers that it will be necessary to shut the bridge to all traffic other than emergency services and pedestrians when work does proceed. The Council will continue to explore options to limit the impact of the closure through the new tendering process and will issue updates as and when information is confirmed,” the statement said.
Cllr Richard John, Conservative Group Leader, said, “I’m pleased the Council is postponing the work, but they’ve made this call because they only received one tender which wasn’t suitable, not because of the level of distress and confusion caused locally.
“I really don’t think senior councillors in the administration went about this the right way. A proposal of this scale needed a far better communication strategy to inform and reassure the public about what the council was proposing to do. Why wasn’t there a public meeting, or letters circulated to residents explaining what was on the horizon as well as an explanation as to whether the bridge really does need to be closed.
“Residents with health conditions didn’t know whether a 30-mile detour to the nearest hospital would put their lives at risk. Businesses felt they’d kept in the dark and unable to plan ahead.