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Answers to common questions about the Menai Suspension Bridge.

First published:
21 October 2022
Last updated:

What is happening?

Following advice from UK Highways A55 Ltd and their structural experts, we decided to close the A5 Menai Suspension Bridge to all traffic straight away.

We appreciate the frustration this is causing, but the decision was made in the interest of public safety.

The Welsh Government and UK Highways A55 Ltd are doing everything within their powers, to carry out repairs to the bridge as quickly as possible, so it can reopen when it is safe.

The mitigation works are planned to start in December 2022 and be completed by the end of January 2023 (weather permitting).  The approaches to the Menai Suspension Bridge will also be resurfaced at the same time to help minimise future disruption for residents and businesses.

The footpath across the bridge is open for pedestrians and dismounted cyclists.

People must remain on the footpath.

Why is the Menai Suspension Bridge closed?

Following the planned maintenance and recommendations identified from the Principal Inspection Report 2019 to refurbish the paint system on the suspension bridge, further detailed technical analysis was undertaken. A potential issue with the bridge span hangers was identified.

As a result of further modelling, serious risks were identified and structural engineers recommended closing the bridge to all traffic.  

A separate structural consultant has completed an independent check of the analysis done so far. They have concluded the correct approach is being taken.

What happened between the 7.5 tonne weight restriction being put in place and the bridge being closed?

The 7.5 tonne weight restriction was put in place on the Menai Suspension Bridge on 2 June 2022 as a precaution based on the advice received at the time. The restriction enabled further analysis to be carried out on the bridge’s suspended span hangers and a hanger replacement programme to be put in place.  

Structural engineers were instructed to undertake further assessment and modelling work into the identified issue. This work detected a structural issue with the bridge which led to a recommendation to close the bridge.

How long will the Menai Suspension Bridge be closed for?

UK Highways A55 Ltd, their structural engineers and contractors are assessing available options to allow the bridge to reopen quickly and safely.  

Work on the temporary hangers will start this month, with the bridge planned to reopen with a 7.5 tonne weight limit by the end of January 2023, weather permitting.

How do I cross the Menai Strait while the bridge is closed?

All vehicles will be diverted to the A55 Britannia Bridge. Suitable diversion routes have been planned for emergency services. 

The suspension bridge is open for pedestrians and dismounted cyclists. People must remain on the footpaths

Can emergency vehicles travel over the Menai Suspension Bridge?

In extreme events, emergency vehicles will be able to cross the suspension bridge as long as they weigh less than 7.5 tonnes and follow guidance.

What can I do to minimise my travel time?

Traffic Wales monitors travel times.

You can find out the busiest times to travel to help plan your journey on Traffic Wales: A55 Britannia Bridge journey planning. You can also get regular updates on their twitter account @TrafficWalesN.

If you travel on your own, you could try using the park and share at:

  • Llanfairpwll: located at postcode LL61 5YR or
  • Gaerwen: located at postcode LL60 6AR.

You can use the park and share for free in December and January to meet work colleagues, friends and family to car share. We are funding this to help reduce traffic on the roads.

What is being considered to improve traffic flow

We are working with partners to discuss options. 

We have agreed with partners, that we won’t use the following because of the adverse impacts they would cause:

  • closing of slips roads A55 junctions 8, 8a and 9
  • separation of local traffic on the A55 to allow access to Menai Bridge town without queuing.

We are still investigating:

  • public transport improvements, including additional services or rerouting of buses
  • speed limit reductions on the A55 around Britannia Bridge
  • ramp metering on junction 9
  • third tidal lane across the A55 Britannia Bridge
  • general traffic management measures
  • active travel measures in Menai Bridge and Bangor areas.

We will implement:

  • rolling road blocks when required. A rolling road block is way of controlling the traffic flow to allow slip road traffic and mainline traffic to join together easier.
  • free parking at the 2 park and share sites
  • free parking in Menai Bridge from 10am during December and January.

What additional public transport is available during the closure?

Transport for Wales have provided additional rail stops and Arriva Buses have put on additional services. The additional services have been added to the journey planner on: Traveline Cymru.

Isle of Anglesey County Council have provided additional stops close to the Suspension Bridge to allow people to walk across. They are also using their community transport to help the more rural communities affected by the bridge closure: Isle of Anglesey Council: Temporary shuttle bus introduced to support commuters.

Students

Coleg Llandrillo Menai students can travel for free on Transport for Wales services while the bridge is closed.

Students can use their 16+ education bus passes from Isle of Anglesey County Council to travel free between Holyhead and Bangor. This will be valid from Monday to Friday from all stations on Anglesey for journeys made to or from Bangor. The scheme will end when the bridge reopens in early 2023.

What do I do if my business is affected by the closure?

Local businesses have been contacted to understand how the bridge closure is affecting them.

We know that many of these businesses rely on Christmas trade.

Free parking will be available from 10am in Menai Bridge during December and January. We and UK Highways A55 Ltd are funding this as we want to encourage people to support their local businesses.

Business should access support via our dedicated Business Wales service: Business Wales: supporting businesses in Wales.

What happens if the Britannia Bridge is closed?

It is very uncommon for the A55 Britannia Bridge to close. In the last two years, the bridge has been closed to all traffic on just one occasion. If it does close, it is usually only for a few hours.

When there are high winds certain vehicles types are advised not to cross during certain conditions.

Following a strategy review, wind speed limits have been changed for some vehicle types. So the bridge should remain open to more vehicles, more often and any closure will be as short as possible.

Why is the Network Rail maintenance on the Britannia Bridge continuing?

The maintenance that Network Rail is undertaking on the Britannia Bridge is necessary.

The work as it will require a limited number of 20 minute closures between midnight and 5am on the nights work is planned. This is when there is less traffic approximately 10% of the daily peak, so there will be less disruption. The 20 minutes wait is a maximum, but usually you will be waiting less than this. Ferry traffic using the bridge was also considered when choosing the timing of the works.

We understand the concerns about these works while the Menai Suspension Bridge is closed to vehicles. The works had started before the closure and were put on hold to determine the best way forward.  It was agreed that they can continue as they are improving the resilience of Britannia Bridge and will help to reduce the risk of future unplanned closures. 

How long are the Network Rail works expected to last on Britannia Bridge?

The works are planned to end in early December.

Will emergency vehicles be able to cross Britannia Bridge during the 20 minute closures?

Yes. The closures will not impact blue light vehicles, who will be able to cross throughout the works.

Why are some of the signs say Menai Bridge is closed?

None of the signs should now say “Menai Bridge is closed”.

The temporary yellow and black signs have been changed to say “Menai Suspension Bridge is closed and businesses are open as usual”.

The digital signs on the A55 now say “A5 Menai Bridge closed”.