Updated 8th March 2023
Since I was elected to the Welsh Parliament, I have been campaigning for better transport infrastructure for Montgomeryshire. Good transport connections are key to improving the local economy which is why I actively campaigned for the Newtown bypass and continue to campaign for other important road improvement schemes as well as improving road safety. It is reported that sadly Powys has one of the highest road accident rates leading to someone being killed or seriously injured on our roads per 100,000 population and the reason I continue to call for road safety improvements.
Dyfi Bridge, Machynlleth
I am pleased that work is progressing on the construction of the new Dyfi bridge and road scheme. The old bridge was never designed to carry the current volume of traffic and is often closed due to frequent flooding causing traffic to take a diversion of up to 30 miles.
The new Dyfi bridge will improve the reliability of crossing the River Dyfi and will improve access to key services including healthcare, employment opportunities and education for the people of Machynlleth and the surrounding area.
Some of the works taking place includes, building flood bunds; installing emergency pumping facilities; starting earthworks for the new bridge deck; the construction of a new bridge crossing the River Dyfi; and building a new road layout at both ends of the road scheme. The new bridge and road scheme is due to be completed by this Spring.
The campaign for a Pant-Llanymynech bypass remains an important road improvement and safety scheme. Both the UK Government and Welsh Government have given commitments to the Pant/Llanymynech bypass and are working together to progress the scheme. Highways England are leading on the project development in consultation with Welsh Government transport officials.
Frustratingly, the Welsh Government put a hold on the construction of all new roads in Wales subject to a review, which only reported back in February 2023. This scheme has to be funded by both Governments. During Winter 2022/23, I again raised the scheme in the Senedd with the Minister. The scheme has not been scrapped as part of the road review but that is not a guarantee that it will end up going ahead. Craig and I continue to raise this emphasising the importance and the need for the bypass.
Schemes at Caersws
There are other smaller road schemes proposed to resolve traffic flow and safety concerns including at Moat Lane crossing near Caersws with a proposed roundabout replacing the current junction. Also in Caersws, along with County Councillor Les George and others, I have been promoting a new footbridge over the river. The current bridge is dangerous for pedestrians crossing. Work to progress this scheme has been slow and has been hampered along with other smaller schemes due to Welsh Government putting a hold on the building of all new schemes subject to their review.
I have also raised the safety of the pedestrian crossing by the crossroads with the Minister, Whilst progress has been slow, I am pleased the Minister has agreed to undertake a safety assessment of the pedestrian crossing before the end of March, and that the road did survive the road review and will progress to the next stage.
I pressed the First Minister on this in March, who said: “What will happen now is that the scheme [the Moat Lane junction and pedestrian crossing across the river] will continue to develop, that some of the more recent recommendations that include additional safety and active travel elements will need to be planned into the project, and I’m afraid, like all schemes, it inevitably has to meet the same tests as any other road scheme, and then of affordability".
A44 Llangurig to Aberystwyth
I am pleased that this road project will be going ahead after the Welsh Government overruled its own review findings which said it should not progress. I will continue to call for safety improvements along this route which has one of the worst accident records in the UK. Welsh Government have at last recognised the need for improvements due to issues such as road safety, junction efficiency and the overall condition of the road. However, I will continue to work to make sure ministers see this scheme through to the end.
A Better Rail Service
Sadly, the rail service we receive in Montgomeryshire continues to be poor with trains regularly being cancelled, delayed or overcrowded. I have been continually raising concerns about the performance of Transport for Wales on the Cambrian Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury line and have been seeking assurances over commitments made by Transport for Wales and the Welsh Government.
A new fleet of trains is being built for the Cambrian Line and are due to be running later in 2023. I am assured that these trains will deliver increased capacity for passengers and will also run with faster acceleration, allowing services to meet the timetable more reliably. I continue to raise the frustration of this poor service and seek assurances that the new trains will indeed deliver a better service for us locally.
I have also been pleased to support plans to improve accessibility at Newtown train station, as part of the Department for Transport funded Access for All programme. The project will see a significant investment in the railway in Newtown with the installation of a brand-new fully accessible footbridge and lifts, linking platforms one and two. Accessibility benefits people of all ages and helps to promote the use of the rail network by reducing carbon emissions and the reliance on car journeys. Assuming planning applications are granted, it is hoped that work on site will start this summer.