New Severn bridge cuts jams

August 04, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

A new $535 million bridge linking England and South Wales opened last month. By relieving traffic congestion across the Severn estuary the crossing cuts the approximately three-hour journey from London to Cardiff by at least 20 minutes.

At three miles long, including its approaches and viaducts, the new Second Severn Crossing is the longest crossing in Britain. It is officially called a crossing because the central 3,107-foot-long bridge spanning the waterway is joined on either side by viaducts. It was constructed over four years by Laing-G.T.M., an English-French venture.

Traffic on the original Severn Road Bridge, three miles away, increased from 6 million vehicles in 1966-1967 to around 18 million in 1994, resulting in severe congestion during peak times. In high winds, the bridge has to be closed.

The new crossing is expected to be used by some 70 percent of the estimated 51,000 vehicles using this route each day. The bridge, constructed to withstand severe winds, is expected to remain open in adverse weather conditions. A new toll plaza on the Welsh side of the bridge will further reduce lines. The charge is about $6.20.

A new highway, the M49, scheduled to open this month, will lead from the bridge on the English side to the M5 highway. This five-mile stretch of road combined with the new crossing will shorten the journey between Cardiff and southwest England by eight miles.

Pub Date: 8/04/96

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