Welsh bridge raised to clear floodwater

The Black Bridge, near Machynlleth in mid Wales, regularly floods when the River Dulas rises after heavy rains.

A railway bridge over the River Dulas in Powys, mid Wales, is being raised up by a metre to take it clear of the river’s flood zone.

The £3.6 million project will protect the Black Bridge near Machynlleth from high river levels. The bridge is repeatedly flooded during periods of heavy rainfall, causing regular closures and disruption to passengers on the Machynlleth to Shrewsbury route. The most recent instance was at the end of May, when heavy rain caused the river levels to rise, hitting the closure mark of the bridge and demonstrating why the work to lift the bridge is so important.

The latest floods occurred while work to raise the bridge was already taking place.

Despite this setback, which happened while the bridge was already being worked on by Network Rail and contractor AmcoGiffen, work is progressing well. The bridge deck has been lifted and secured into its temporary position. It will be held there until it is lowered on to its newly constructed bearings next week.

The Black Bridge is currently on temporary supports before being repositioned one metre further above the level of the river.

Kevin Giles, senior asset engineer for Network Rail Wales and Borders, said: “The flooding we have seen at Black Bridge during our work shows exactly why raising the bridge is so important.”

The railway will be closed until 28 June so that the work to raise the bridge and reprofile the track can be carried out safely. 

One added complication is that fish spawn in the River Dulas, so there is a limited time period during which the resilience work can be carried out. Network Rail and its contractor are working in collaboration with Natural Resources Wales and ecological specialists to protect the sensitive local environment.

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