Mid Wales

Cold snap blamed for bridge closure near Newtown

A Grade II-listed bridge closed for safety reasons has been damaged by freezing weather and might be shut for a year.

The crossing at Aberbechan, near Newtown, was shut on Sunday after Powys council said cracks started to appear.

The council added that the weather had made the bridge on the B4389 dangerous, and it could cost £1m to repair.

Motorists had used the B-road to escape congestion in Newtown which has caused problems for months.

A Powys council spokesman said: "The council decided to take emergency action to close the bridge because the recent severe cold weather had made the structure dangerous to travel over.

"By closing the bridge we hope to prevent further damage occurring to the bridge.

"A full assessment of the structure's condition will be carried out by the council. This will then determine how the council will repair the damage to the bridge.

"It is too early to say when the bridge will reopen and how much it will cost to repair the damage. However, as it is a listed structure over a river, we will need to consult the Environment Agency and Cadw on any works that are required.

"At this stage, the bridge will be closed for a number of months."

Drivers have long faced tailbacks in Newtown, but there are complaints problems have grown since traffic lights replaced a roundabout near a Tesco supermarket.

Newtown county councillor Russell George fears the bridge closure will add to the traffic problems.

He said: "I understand that the bridge has been closed due to serious structural problems likely caused by the sustained period of very cold weather.

"The road may be closed for some time and this will no doubt lead to more congestion through Newtown as commuters used this as a rat run to avoid the chaotic set of traffic lights.

"This does highlight the concern that these small roads are not designed for large amounts of traffic. I have had numerous people contact me concerned about the increased traffic along canal road."

The preferred route for a bypass, which is expected to ease Newtown's traffic problems, was unveiled last October.

Work is expected to start on the road in 2014.

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