Campaigners calling for a footbridge over the River Usk at Llanellen have won a partial victory after the Welsh Government announced it would draw up plans.
Local residents, supported by Abergavenny Cycle Group, are lobbying for a new footbridge because of concerns that the current Grade II listed Llanellen road bridge is not safe to walk or cycle across.
Pedestrians have described using the narrow and blind humpback bridge as “taking your life in your hands”, while slower cyclists and walkers are often temporarily obscured from the vision of oncoming traffic.
They say the existing footpath running next to the A4042 from the Hardwick Roundabout in Abergavenny towards Pontypool is an “excellent and safe route” for walkers – except where it is “interrupted” by the need to cross the bridge at Llanellen.
Backed by David Davies MP and Nick Ramsay AM, the campaign was taken to the Welsh Government, which carried out a feasibility study and public consultation on options for a new footbridge.
Now Transport Minister Edwina Hart has confirmed in a letter to Mr Davies that design of the footbridge will be progressed “over the next two financial years”.
“This is a welcome and essential step forward but we mustn’t rest on our laurels and need to keep up the pressure for construction,” said the Monmouth MP.
“I regularly drive along this stretch of road and know first-hand how hazardous it is for vehicles to pass each other because of the bridge’s narrow width.
“I would certainly be extremely anxious about walking or cycling across. Indeed, I find it somewhat alarming that people are actively encouraged to use the bridge as part of the advertised Usk Valley Walk.
“There is, I would argue, a wider trunk road safety issue which needs to be addressed here, sooner rather than later.”
Llanellen resident and local campaigner Tony Jay added: “I would like to thank everyone who responded to the public consultation exercise, which has led to a positive result.
“Completing a design for the proposed footbridge will hopefully lead on to construction but just in case this does not happen, people may have to mobilise their collective wishes again.
“David Davies and I have noted in our 2017 diaries to follow the project through and continued public support will no doubt be effective.”