£95 million Newtown Bypass is opened - with video and pictures
It’s finally open and workers who have helped build the Newtown Bypass were the first to officially drive along it today.
The new 6.3km roadway has taken around three years to build at a cost of £95 million, and was opened by Wales Transport Minister Ken Skates at a ceremony on Thursday.
WATCH: Wales Transport Minister Ken Skates leads ceremony
Plans for a bypass were first talked about in the town over 70 years ago and shortly before 1pm traffic finally took to the roadway for the first time.
The work, done by Alun Griffiths Contractors has come in ahead of schedule and under budget, and Montgomeryshire’s assembly member Russell George said: “This is a momentous occasion that will go down in the history of the area.
“It will bring huge benefits to not just Newtown but to the whole area.”
How not everyone was happy with today's opening. A few protestors gathered on a bridge with a banner reading “Victim of the Bypass”.
Shropshire Star reporter Jonny Drury was at today's opening:
Dignitaries from around the region attended opening, with a plaque unveiled on the side of the roadway to mark the occasion.
Around 17,000 vehicles will drive on the bypass every day, slashing the traffic moving through the gridlocked town by a half.
90 per cent of the lorries that cause issues going through the centre will now use the bypass, according to the contractors.
Nick Cleary, the senior project manager for the contractors, added: “We’re very proud to see this has come to fruition, it has been a big challenge but one we are very proud of.
“More than 1,000 workers have worked on this on site, with hundreds of others off site, and it is great that it has come in on time and under budget.
“There have been challenges along with way, but now it is great to see everything come together.”
Along with challenges with the bypass route itself, other obstacles have presented themselves to the contractors along the way.
Campaigners saved The Brimmon Oak Tree, on land next to the bypass with the government having to tweak the route to preserve the tree’s roots.
And one home owner Robert Roberts held numerous protests at his home near the Pool Road end of the bypass, claiming he had not been paid enough money for his property and land.
On Thursday he unveiled a banner on one of the bridges, stating he was ‘a victim of the bypass’, and had been left thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Workers will remain in the area of the bypass for the coming months now to maintain the area around the bypass.
Contractors thanked local residents for their patience and understanding throughout the construction process, and thanks were also given from Newtown Mayor Sue Newham who said: “We are so grateful to the Welsh Government for bringing such a big investment to Newtown, which will boost the economy and enhance the area long into the future.”
Newtown Bypass facts:
- Work began in February 2016.
- It has cost around £95 million to complete.
- Some £48.9 million has been spent on goods, services, and overheads from companies in Wales, according to the government.
- The roadway has two lanes in one direction and one lane in the opposite direction to provide safe overtaking sections of the road.
- It is set to ease traffic congestion through the town centre by between 40 and 50 per cent.
- Around 17,000 vehicles will drive on the bypass every day.
- 90 per cent of the lorries that cause issues going through the centre will now use the bypass, according to the contractors.
- More than 1,000 workers have worked on site, with hundreds of others off site.