The new A487 Caernarfon and Bontnewydd bypass has been completed ahead of time, but will open a day later than planned for safety reasons, on Saturday 19 February rather than Friday 18 February in order not to encourage any unnecessary travel during Storm Eunice.
Construction of the £139m scheme, delivered by the Balfour Beatty Jones Bros Joint Venture, began in 2019 with work continuing throughout the Covid-19 pandemic with safeguards in place to protect the workforce.
One of the largest recent infrastructure projects in North Wales, the 9.7km bypass runs from the Goat Roundabout on the A499/A487 to the Plas Menai roundabout. 17 major structures were built as part of the scheme and 99% of the excavated materials were recycled and reused on the bypass. The project also includes improved active travel routes for walking and cycling in the area.
The scheme has provided a boost for the local economy with close to £70m spent with Welsh businesses of which £12m was spent on small to medium enterprises. £2m was also spent by the construction workforce in local shops, businesses and services during the construction period.
During the construction stage 93% of the workforce came from the North Wales area, with 31% living within a 10-mile radius. 36 graduates and apprentices were employed and trained while 15 people received work experience. An average of 160 people worked on the scheme at any one time during construction.
Measures have been put in place to minimise the environmental impact of the scheme to improve and enhance biodiversity in the area, including safe passages for wildlife. 170,000 plants, providing around 14 hectares of new native species, woodlands and scrub, as well as over 20 kilometres of new hedgerows were also planted.
Deputy Minister for Climate Change with a responsibility for Transport Lee Waters said: “This projects represents a significant investment in the area by the Welsh Government and it is testimony to the local workforce that it has been completed ahead of time. As well as the road the project has created new links for walking and cycling which will improve the health and the environment of local communities.”
Minister for North Wales Lesley Griffiths said: “This scheme is one of the largest recent infrastructure programmes in North Wales. It has been delivered ahead of time during an extremely challenging period. I congratulate all those involved for delivering this scheme during the pandemic, while keeping their workforce safe. It is a testament to the skills and commitment we have here in North Wales.”
Minister for Economy Vaughan Gething said: “The Caernarfon and Bontnewydd bypass has been a boost for the local economy during construction, providing opportunities for apprentices and graduates, while businesses and suppliers also benefited. In the long term the improved connectivity to Cibyn Industrial Estate, and wider afield, will be good for region’s economic growth.”
Jon Muff, Project Lead at Balfour Beatty Jones Bros said: “We are very grateful to the team for their hard work and dedication throughout the project, bringing together the skills and expertise across our joint venture to connect communities in Caernarfon and Bontnewydd whilst significantly reducing traffic congestion and improving journey times.
“We are proud of the legacy we are leaving behind, which includes considerable spend in the local area as well as training and upskilling dozens of people, including graduates and apprentices.”
Gwion Lloyd, a 22-year-old engineering apprentice from Harlech who has been on site since he started in 2019, said: “It has been excellent to learn so much on such a major project for the region, and I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my civil engineering career. It gives me great pride to know that the community, including family and friends, will be able to benefit from the bypass on a regular basis.”
(Picture – Welsh Government)