Council leader wants quick replacement for storm damaged bridge
01 June 2020
Neath Port Talbot Council is planning to demolish and replace a storm damaged river bridge that is vital in linking the communities of Blaengwrach and Cwmgwrach to Glynneath.
The council had no alternative but to shut the 70-year-old Blaengwrach River Bridge on safety grounds in March this year after it became aware that the structure’s central pier had become damaged following Storm Dennis.
This damage had the potential to result in the collapse of the bridge, without warning, leaving the council with no alternative but to close it for health and safety reasons. This presented further issues to the communities it serves as it was the only pedestrian access from the villages of Blaengwrach and Cwmgwrach to Glynneath.
There is now a high risk that the cordoned off bridge will fail in the near future resulting in its total collapse, hence the council has been forced into measures to prevent continued access to the bridge and the community is reminded of the need to comply with these safety measures.
An application has been submitted to the Welsh Government to secure funding to maintain access but the Council has yet to receive a response. Nevertheless the Council has considered a number of different options and given the importance of safeguarding a pedestrian and cycle link between Blaengwrach and the wider area, the decision has been made to demolish and rebuild the bridge.
The Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Cllr Rob Jones, has received a number of correspondences since the bridge has been closed as to the plight of the community and its residents.
Although the council has made a claim to Welsh Government to assist with the repairs to the bridge the leader feels something more urgent must be done and has now signed an “urgency” action to authorise the demolition and replacement of the bridge.
He said: “I cannot wait for this matter to be resolved by others, I am ensuring this council takes all the necessary steps to replace this vital link to these communities.
He continued: “I have always maintained under my leadership this council is a listening council and we will continue to be so. Whilst I keep pressing the Welsh Government for funding, we are looking to re-prioritise our Capital Programme so we can achieve what I believe is the best option of totally demolishing the damaged bridge and providing a brand new replacement quickly; one which would be of use to present and future generations.”
This means that the damaged bridge structure could be removed as a matter of urgency. A replacement bridge could be in place within four to five months after securing all regulatory approvals and procuring a contractor.
The new bridge will be in place before the winter months, given the possibility of further storms. In the meantime, officers have been instructed to further investigate an alternative route to ensure pedestrians can access and leave the village of Blaengwrach as safely as possible.