Closure threat to essential part of Wales Coast Path

Barmouth Bridge faces closure after 150 years - velodenz (CC)

Closure threat to essential part of Wales Coast Path

Barmouth Bridge, part of the National Cycle Network, faces closure after 150 years use due to council cuts, potentially forcing cyclists and walkers on an 18 mile detour.

According to reports in Wales Online, Gwynedd Council will consult with the public about the closure of Barmouth Bridge, as they are forced to consider cuts to save £9m.

The path is part of Lôn Las Cymru Trail, which forms part of the National Cycle Network route from Cardiff to Holyhead. It runs alongside the railway, giving walkers and cyclists a sweeping view of the Mawddach Estuary with Snowdonia National Park as the backdrop.

As well as depriving the estimated 100,000 annual users of Mawddach Trail of a spectacular view, the proposed closure of this 900m railway bridge would also add an extra eighteen miles to walkers' and cyclists' journeys.  They would be forced either to use unsafe roads or not make the journey at all, putting significant local tourism revenues at risk.

This is a crucial link. Too much has been invested in Welsh tourism in terms of Wales Coast Path and Mawddach Trail for this to close.”
Gwenda Owen, CTC

Speaking to ITV News, Gill Caves of Meironnydd Ramblers pointed out that the closure could have an impact on the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. He also said: “the view of the Mawddach Estuary from the centre of the bridge is reason enough alone to save the iconic structure.”

Gwynedd Council currently pays Network Rail more than £30,000 per annum for the 900-metre right of way on the rail crossing. However, experts are questioning whether its closure makes economic sense in the long run. Wales Online reports that the Wales Coast Path, completed in 2012, generated an estimated £32m for the Welsh economy in its first year, while also yielding an additional £18m per annum in health benefits.

Gwenda Owen, CTC Council member for Wales, says: “This is a crucial link. Too much has been invested in tourism in terms of Wales Coast Path and Mawddach Trail for this to close.” Furthermore, with the Active Travel (Wales) Act seeking to create travel networks to encourage cycling and walking, closing such a popular route is seen as a backwards step. 

The proposed closure of Barmouth Bridge has prompted an overwhelming public outcry. A petition created by Amy Martin of Llywon on Change.org (an online campaigning tool) has nearly reached its target of 5,000 signatures in just one day (4,411 at time of writing).

CTC Cymru will look to work with local partners and stakeholders to ensure Barmouth Bridge remains open to the enjoyment of people whether they cycle or walk. In the meantime we are urging members and supporters to sign up to Amy Martin’s petition to help keep the bridge open!

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