Thursday 2 October 2014

Space Race through Vale of Ffestiniog

The road from Maentwrog to Blaenau seems to have more than its fair share of accidents; at the weekend an air ambulance helicopter landed in the valley but the motorcyclist was already dead. Today I went to a briefing in the Blaenau library about plans to make it safer and ironically there was another accident on the way home, with an overturned Land Rover - fortunately no-one seriously hurt.

Possible improvements start at the Maentwrog end with a right turning lane for the junction at the bottom of the hill as you come down from Trawsfynydd. Other improvement areas are at Rhyd y Sarn, then at the big bend after Rhyd y Sarn, also further up the hill towards the junction with Manod and at Rehau. However, the biggest, potentially most expensive and contentious area is the junction at Tal-y-Bont where our bottom lane crosses the Dol Moch bridge and joins the main road to Blaenau.

Six options have been put forward for consideration and these can be seen in the diagram below. 

One of the options is to make the bottom lane from near the Oakeley Arms the new main road, connecting at Rhyd y Sarn; an official at the meeting noted my concern and pointed me to the long list of disadvantages and relatively few advantages saying that this was the least likely option. Phew!

One of the options is to take the road higher up through the woodland above the Tal-y-Bont junction but this too has many disadvantages and is unlikely. The frontrunner from a casual glance looks to be the building of a new bridge slightly downstream of the current one to reduce the sharpness of the bend. The bottom lane will be diverted just after the Dol Moch bridge to join the main road closer to Rhyd y Sarn and the road down from Llan Ffestiniog will use the old bridge merging with the new section of road further down the valley.

Top of the table of disadvantages is ‘potential impact on the setting of Tal-y-Bont’ - I feel sorry for our good neighbours who live here whose beautiful home will become an island if these proposals go ahead.

I am also concerned that if and once these various improvements are implemented the road from Maentwrog to Blaenau will become the new trunk route and the current section from near Traws to Blaenau will be de-trunked. This will mean yet more traffic going up and down steep hills with all its noise and pollution.

This road improvement investigation has been initiated on account of the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone, which includes sites at Llanbedr Airfield and Trawsfynydd Power Station, and its need for an efficient transport network. With Llanbedr one of eight potential candidates for the UK’s first spaceport, the shaving of a few seconds off the journey from Llandudno could make all the difference to a trip to Mars!

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