Closure of Bridge Street Bridge, Aberfan, biodiversity benefits and a bold new future for the former Merthyr Vale Colliery site
Opened in 1912 as one of the earliest reinforced concrete bridges, Bridge Street bridge in Aberfan has served the community well but has now come to the end of its useful life. To replace this route, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council with financial support from the Welsh Government, is close to completing construction of a new highway over the former Merthyr Vale Colliery site, to be known as Golwyg Yr Afon (River View), together with a new road bridge over the Afon Taff and also a new footbridge over the river immediately upstream of Bridge Street bridge. The new footbridge will be lifted into position on 1st October following which it will be necessary to divert all services currently crossing the river within the existing bridge, such as the water main, to the footbridge. This will require closure of Bridge Street bridge from 5th October and the old bridge will then be demolished by the end of October. Pedestrians and cyclists will continue to be able to use the old bridge until the new footbridge comes into use in mid October.
The new road bridge will be opened to the public by the middle of November approximately 4 months ahead of schedule and a temporary road diversion will be essential to allow completion of the construction works. An alternative route from the eastern end of the Bridge Street bridge closure is via Nixonville, route A4054 Cardiff Road, B4285 Bridge Street Troedyrhiw, B4285 Aberfan Road to the western end of the closure. From the western end of the closure the diversion is vice versa.
‘The temporary diversion is regrettable but essential’, said ward member Cllr Darren Roberts. ‘Natural Resources Wales prohibit works in the river after October to protect valuable fish spawning grounds in the Afon Taff so demolition of Bridge Street bridge must be completed by the end of the month’.
A further exciting opportunity will be realised next year when removal of the weir at Aberfan will open up the full reach of the Afon Taff to fish migration for the first time in many decades. This will improve access to upstream spawning/nursery areas for salmon and trout in particular. This is just one of the many added benefits of the Councils ambition for Project Riverside where Golwg Yr Afon will in time become synonymous with the Riverside vision to create a new vibrant, viable and sustainable heart for Merthyr Vale and Aberfan whilst also celebrating the beauty of the Taff valley. By the end of 2015 the site will suitable and ready for housing development and there has already been significant interest shown by developers such that it is envisaged that redevelopment works will continue apace in 2016 and 2017.