The A55

The A55, also known as the North Wales Expressway, is a major road in Britain. Its entire length is a dual carriageway, with the exception where the road crosses the Britannia Bridge over the Menai Strait (more information below). All junctions are separated except for two roundabouts — one in Penmaenmawr and one in Llanfairfechan. The road originally ran from Chester to Bangor but was extended next to the A5 across Anglesey right into Holyhead Docks in 2001.

Britannia Bridge proposed bridge improvement

In November 2007, a Public Consultation exercise into the ‘A55 Britannia Bridge Improvement’ commenced. The perceived problems stated include:

  • It is the only non dual carriageway section along the A55
  • Congestion during morning and afternoon peak periods
  • Congestion from seasonal and ferry traffic from Holyhead
  • Queuing at the junctions at either end
  • Traffic is expected to significantly increase over the next 10 years or so

In the document  (“A55 Britannia Bridge Improvement”), four options are presented, each with their own benefits and constraints. Click here to view a copy of the document

  • Do Nothing. Congestion will increase as traffic levels increase.
  • Widen Existing Bridge. To do this, the towers would have to be removed to make room for the extra lanes. This is an issue as the bridge is a Grade 2 Listed Structure and also as the bridge is owned by Network Rail. The extra lanes would have to be of reduced width as the existing structure is not capable of supporting 4 full width lanes.
  • New multi span concrete box bridge alongside. Building a separate bridge would allow the existing bridge to be used as normal during construction. The bridge would require support pillar(s) in the Menai Strait which is an environmental issue as the Strait is a Special Area of Conservation. Visual impact would be low as the pillars and road surface would be aligned with the current bridge.
  • New Single Span Cable Stayed Bridge. This would obviate the need for pillars in the Strait, but the bridge would have a large impact on the landscape due to the height of the cable support pillars. This is also the most costly option.

Respondents were overwhelmingly in favour of seeing some improvements, with 70% favouring the solution of building a second bridge.

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