CONCERNS over a month-long road closure in the Dyfi Valley have been raised in the Senedd.
Plaid Cymru Senedd Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Mabon ap Gwynfor, warned that communities in Bro Dysynni and Pennal will be severely impacted if the month-long closure of the A493 near Pontarddyfi goes ahead in January.
Work is nearing completion on a new bridge spanning the Afon Dyfi in Machynlleth.
But plans are in place to close two key routes connecting Bro Dysynni, Pennal and the Corris area, with northern parts of Ceredigion.
Mr ap Gwynfor says people living along the A493 have voiced concerns about the impact the month-long road closure will have on their ability to get work, attend hospital appointments in Aberystwyth and on children travelling to attend school.
Urging the Minister to work with contractors to minimise disruption, Mr ap Gwynfor called for work to complete the £46 million infrastructure project to be carried out during night-time hours and explore other options to mitigate impact on local communities.
Speaking in the Senedd, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS said: ''The Minister will be aware that the bridge over the Dyfi river is about to open. But, in January, the A493 and the A487 near Pontarddyfi will be closed for almost a month, from 15 January onwards, as I understand it.
“People in the area, particularly the Pennal and Bro Dysynni area, are extremely concerned that those roads are to be closed for a month.''
''It will have a detrimental impact on their ability to travel to hospital in Aberystwyth, for example, and on the ability of workers to cross over to Machynlleth and north Ceredigion. Pupils and students who want to travel over the bridge will also face difficulties.''
''They are gravely concerned about the ability of ambulances to travel if there is an emergency in the Pennal area. So, what consideration have you given, or what pressure can you as a government bring to bear, in order to ensure that the road isn't closed for all that time?''
''I wonder if it's possible to ensure that the workforce working on the road could work at night, to ensure that the road could be open, or to come to another solution so that the road doesn't have to be completely closed for over a month from 15 January onwards?''
In response, Lesley Griffiths MS, said: “We are aware of the concerns regarding the closure of the A493.
“The Welsh Government is working with the contractor, local authorities and stakeholders to ensure that all mitigation options are considered to minimise disruption.
“Specifically, I know the contractors' public liaison officer is currently consulting with emergency services, local schools, social services and health centres to gather their views.”
The call for information was supported by Montgomeryshire MS, Russell George, who said: “I fully endorse everything Mabon said, because I know myself, when the Dyfi bridge is closed due to weather issues over the winter period, that can lead to a huge diversion—a 30-mile diversion—which causes concerns for those working either side of the bridge and also the emergency services as well.
“I would be grateful if you could offer any further detail about when the new Dyfi bridge will open.”
Ms Griffiths replied saying from the information she had, the new bridge will open at the end of January or beginning of February.
Mr ap Gwynfor is seeking a meeting with the primary contractors to discuss these concerns and urge them to work with the communities to find a suitable situation.
Speaking on the proposed road closure, Liz Saville Roberts MP added: "Local people living in the communities most likely to be affected by this month-long road closure are understandably seeking clarity as to how they’ll be able to go about their daily life when their normal means of travel will be unavailable. People are very worried about how they'll reach hospital appointments in Aberystwyth for example, their children's education, and what arrangements, if any, are in place for safe, emergency service access to those communities cut off by this road closure.
"I echo calls by my colleague Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, and urge the Welsh government to work with contractors to bring forward safe, alternative arrangements which are mindful of the need of my constituents to maintain access to local services."