Answers to common questions about the Menai Suspension Bridge.
What is happening?
Works to replace the bridge hangers started on 4 September 2023. Other essential work to bring the bridge back into full use are also taking place.
The construction programme has been developed by UK Highways A55 Ltd. They operate and maintain the bridge on behalf of the Welsh Government through a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) Design, Build, Finance and Operate (DBFO) Contract. The plans have been discussed with stakeholders.
We do not intend to close the bridge completely during the works. The works have been designed so that one lane will remain open at all times. The lane will have traffic lights to enable traffic to continue to cross the bridge in both directions. The lane closure and traffic lights will be in place from 7am Mondays to 3.30pm Fridays. The traffic lights will be manually operated during peak times, so traffic can be managed as efficiently as possible while the works takes place. The lights and lane closure will be removed for weekends.
It is expected that all the required works will be completed by the end of August 2025 (subject to weather). This will ensure the Menai Suspension Bridge is ready for its 200th anniversary in 2026.
To complete the work by this deadline, works will need to take place during holiday periods, including Easter, school half terms and the summer holidays. This will allow the works to be completed as soon as possible and minimise the impact of weather delays on the programme by working at times with traditionally better weather. No works will take place during the Christmas holiday period or on Bank Holidays.
The Menai Suspension Bridge will still have a 7.5t weight limit in place while the work is under way. Once the works have been completed, the 7.5t weight limit will be removed.
Inspections of the temporary works will form part of the above works.
Why did the Menai Suspension Bridge close in October 2022?
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 immediately to all traffic.
What happened between the 7.5 tonne weight restriction being put in place in June 2022 and October 2022, when the bridge was 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.
Can emergency vehicles travel over the Menai Suspension Bridge?
Emergency vehicles will be able to cross the suspension bridge as long as they weigh less than 7.5 tonnes.
What can I do to minimise my travel time?
Traffic Wales monitors travel times and to date, on average, 1 to 2 minute delays are being experienced over the course of a day.
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
There are plenty of spaces available to be used each day.
What is being considered to improve the flow of traffic?
We have been working with partners to discuss options.
During the temporary works we implemented:
- 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 two park and share sites between December and 13 February 2023
- free parking in Menai Bridge from 10am between December and 13 February 2023
- public transport improvements including additional services or rerouting of buses
We are still investigating:
- third tidal lane across the A55 Britannia Bridge
- active travel measures in Menai Bridge and Bangor areas
We agreed with partners, that we won’t use the following because of the potential adverse impacts they would cause during the Menai Suspension Bridge closure:
- 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
- general traffic management measures in and around the slip roads
- long term permanent speed limit reductions on the A55 around Britannia Bridge at present
- ramp metering on Junction 9 due to the short nature of the slip roads
What support was available during the closure for businesses?
Local businesses were contacted to understand how the bridge closure was affecting them.
Businesses were encouraged to access support via our dedicated Business Wales service: Business Wales: supporting businesses in Wales.
Many smaller businesses already qualify for 100% rates relief in Menai Bridge and pay no non-domestic rates. Isle of Anglesey County Council identified 30 additional Menai Bridge businesses may also be eligible for rates relief under the retail, leisure and hospitality rates relief scheme. The Council invited those businesses to apply.
If you think your business might be eligible for rates relief please contact Isle of Anglesey County Council to discuss further. Further contact information, including application forms is available at: Isle of Anglesey County Council: Retail, leisure and hospitality rates relief scheme.
Businesses which are liable for non-domestic rates may be eligible to apply to the Valuation Office Agency for a temporary reduction in rateable value. To find out more, go to: GOV.UK: Find a business rates valuation.
What happens if the Britannia Bridge is closed?
It is very uncommon for the A55 Britannia Bridge to close. 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. This has helped Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) to continue to cross the A55 Britannia Bridge during adverse weather events.
Menai Suspension Bridge will stay open to vehicles under 7.5 Tonnes allowing most traffic to use the signposted diversion route.
If possible, the traffic management that has been put in place for the hanger replacement works will be removed from the Menai Suspension Bridge during emergencies/incidents and high wind events. This will allow traffic (vehicles under 7.5T) to flow as freely as possible over the Menai Straits.