Usk Chainbridge repairs or replacement 'could cost £2.5m'
MONMOUTHSHIRE’S Chainbridge could be pulled down and replaced, or repaired – at a cost of £2.5 million.
The bridge, between Usk and Abergavenny, is the only suitable river crossing for dozens of heavy goods vehicles for many miles, but cannot continue in its current state.
Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for county operations, Cllr Bryan Jones, is waiting for the results of tests which will reveal the weight the bridge is able to take. Currently, traffic lights are preventing lorries travelling in both directions using the bridge at the same time.
The council is estimating a provisional figure of £2.5 million for the replacing or repair of the structure, which has been a focal point on the road for around 100 years.
Its historic nature is proving problematic, according to Cllr Jones, who acknowledges it was built for horses and carts and small numbers of motor cars rather than heavy lorries.
He said the south side of the bridge has suffered corrosion in the wind and rain and it has been painted within the last ten years.
“We recognise it’s an important route and there are no real alternatives for heavy traffic,” he said.
“The only other route is a back route from Clytha to Llancayo and that’s totally unsuitable for a 44-tonne ‘artic’ lorry or put more traffic through Usk. It would be a bridge we wouldn’t wish to see closed or have a weight limit restriction for any length of time.
“It’s an old and much-loved structure.
“If we wanted to pull it down and build something new which is probably the ideal solution, you may come up against it from a heritage point of view.
“It may involve short term weight restrictions until we can arrive at a solution where we can rectify the problem.
“It’s a bit of a headache not helped by the budget situation but it’s a problem we are addressing,” he added.
Ann Morse, chairwoman of Usk Civic Society, said she would not want to see more lorries going through the town.
She said “It’s an important crossing in the area. We are increasingly trying to stop heavy vehicles going through Usk.
There’s a ‘lorry watch’ scheme in operation.”