A major scheme to strengthen the 160-year-old Britannia bridge, which spans the Menai Strait, has started today. A joint effort by Network Rail, the Welsh Assembly Government and the UK Highway Agency, the investment of nearly £4m will help safeguard the future of the road and rail link.
More than 50 engineers will be working round the clock in the next four months to improve the railway and road bridge. To keep the railway and roads open during the improvement work, engineers will be using innovative techniques, including a barge, abseilers and installing a movable platform on the rail deck to access the structure.
Mark Langman, route director for Network Rail said: “Britannia bridge is a landmark and a strategic gateway linking the Isle of Anglesy to mainland Wales, carrying thousands of tonnes of road and rail traffic daily. The bridge has stood for 160 years and we want to keep the structure strong to serve Wales for many years to come.
“The bridge is uniquely located but we are determined to minimise disruptions and protect any rare plants and species within the conservation area while our work is being carried out.”
Reliability of the 830 metres long bridge will be improved as engineers replace the eroded steelwork, faulty drainage system on the highway, old bridge parapets and stonework.
The steel portals on the approach of the bridge will also be freshly painted. A detailed inspection will also be carried out in the internal chambers of the three towers – remotest parts of the structure – to examine the condition of the structure.
A special walkway will also be built to enable engineers to access the structure safely and swiftly to carry out ongoing inspections of the masonry piers.
Special efforts will be made to protect the listed structure and the surrounding environment, this include using special paint to minimise pollution, decontaminating all equipment before bringing them to site and recreate a new habitat for plants to flourish.