A TWO-WAY road bridge near Pontarddulais will become single file to accommodate a pavement, prompting anger from many people in the area.
Swansea Council has agreement from Network Rail, which is strengthening the Pentre Road bridge – just south of the M4 – to install a pavement to help pedestrians who currently have to walk onto the road to cross it.
The change will result in traffic lights being put either side of the bridge.
People living in the area only found out about it when Gower MS Rebecca Evans posted photos and an update on Facebook last Thursday, according to Pontarddulais councillor Kevin Griffiths.
Cllr Griffiths said pedestrians had crossed the bridge carefully for years, and that there had been talk of a separate bridge for walkers and cyclists running alongside the existing one.
Referring to the new scheme, he said: “It’s better than nothing (for pedestrians) but it’s going to cause so much disruption. I think it should have gone out to consultation at least.”
Oystermouth councillor Myles Langstone, who is the Conservative candidate for Gower at this year’s Senedd elections, also said people in the area should have a say.
He has started a petition calling on the council to reconsider.
Cllr Langstone felt a separate bridge for walkers and cyclists alongside was the best solution.
“Clearly, the proposal for Pentre Road Bridge would be a traffic nightmare and needs an urgent rethink,” he said.
In her Facebook post, Ms Evans said the new pavement will be a walking and cycling route, but the council said it was just for pedestrians.
But the new scheme could help the council secure future funding for a cycle route between Pontarddulais and Grovesend, which would make use of the pavement.
Cllr Mark Thomas, cabinet member for environment enhancement and infrastructure management, said people had asked the council to make the bridge a safer option for pedestrians, and that speed surveys showed vehicles travelling at well over 30mph across it.
He said: “Options such as constructing a new separate footbridge have been discussed but costs for this have made this option unfeasible.”
He added: “Surveys of current traffic flows have also shown that the introduction of traffic lights at the bridge would have little or no effect on traffic flows in either direction.”
Pentre Road was closed between Pontarddulais and Gorseinon last November for six months for the Network Rail bridge project. Motorists are using a Pontlliw and Penllergaer diversion instead.
Many residents expressed anger about the new pavement and traffic lights in response to Ms Evans’s Facebook post.
Ian Davies wrote: “The general consensus is that this is a terrible idea. It will create long traffic queues at busy times, and will just annoy thousands of motorists.
“A separate cycle-walking lane needs to be hung off one side of the bridge, negating the need to utilise one of the existing traffic lanes.”
Rachel Keatley wrote: “Awful idea. This will cause chaos. For the amount of the time this has been closed there should be at least a wider road/pavement allowing access for all.”
Two days later Ms Evans wrote on Facebook that she’d requested a meeting with Cllr Thomas to discuss people’s concerns, but added that there had been strong support for trying to find a safe way of crossing the railway line for pedestrians and cyclists when Network Rail wrote to householders within a three-mile radius of the bridge before its project got under way.
Several people then claimed they hadn’t received the Network Rail letter.
But another, Thomas Evans, voiced his support for the new pavement scheme, saying there wasn’t room for a pedestrian or cyclist when two vehicles bigger than a car crossed the bridge at the same time.
He wrote: “Yes that doesn’t happen often, but it does happen and if it saves someone getting hurt then surely it’s worth it.”