§ 23. Mr. Gwilym Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement upon the future of the Severn bridge.
§ Mrs. Chalker
The Flint and Neill Partnership which was appointed to consider strategies for strengthening the crossing has confirmed that it will be technically feasible to strengthen the crossing so that it can carry considerably higher loads than at present without restrictions on the flow of traffic. The Department is considering as a matter of urgency the options for strengthening which Flint and Neill has put forward. Earlier today, I gave instructions for additional restrictions on traffic on the bridge to be imposed during weekdays on operational grounds.
In the Light of the Mott, Hay and Anderson check on the Flint and Neill report, I have decided that until it has been possible to assess the statements, the current early morning restrictions on Monday-Friday should be applied for all 24 hours throughout those days, as from midnight tonight. There will be no such restrictions from 6 am on Saturday until midnight on Sunday. Within the next fortnight I expect to come to conclusions on whether these restrictions need to continue.
Restrictions have already been imposed on the use of the bridge in bad weather for traffic safety requirements. These requirements operate well below a point where conditions could with traffic on the bridge, present a risk to users. The procedures are kept under continual review.252W
Until decisions are reached, for the time being tolls will not be levied for eastbound traffic while these traffic restrictions are in force.