THREE charities are calling for a rethink over plans for a £125 million bypass scheme after raising safety and access issues.
Sustrans Cymru, Ramblers Cymru, and Cycling UK are urging the Welsh Government to look again at plans for the A487 Caernarfon to Bontnewydd bypass, which they say does not provide enough provision for walkers and cyclists.
The 9.8 kilometre scheme aims to reduce journey times between Llanwnda and Plas Menai and Caernarfon, to reduce vehicles passing through residential communities and prevent accidents.
It is set to be routed from the A487/A499 Goat roundabout, heading north, and skirting Dinas, Bontnewydd, Caeathro and Caernarfon, before rejoining the A487 at the Plas Menai roundabout, near Y Felinheli.
Under the Welsh Government’s Active Travel Act, road developers have a duty to consider and improve walking and cycling provision.
A public inquiry into the scheme started on Tuesday, June 13 and is expected to last four to five weeks. An inspector will examine the social, environmental and economic issues and hear evidence from technical specialists, supporters and objectors.
They will then consider proposed solutions, suggest alternatives and report on the findings, which may ultimately affect whether construction goes ahead.
The plan is to build a two plus one carriageway (two lanes in one direction, one in the other, switching from one side to another) between the Goat roundabout and Plas Menai roundabout.
The charities’ fears relate to proposed crossings of two main roads at Lôn Eifion, a popular traffic free route for walking and cycling.
They also highlighting no direct motor access between the bypass and Caernarfon suburbs, which could result in town congestion.
They say there are limited safe crossings for walking and cycling around roundabouts, no additional walking and cycling links from the Bontnewydd area towards Caeathro, Cibyn Industrial Estate and Bethel roundabout and no additional crossing on the re-designed Plas Menai roundabout.
Speaking for the charities, who have all lodged formal complaints, Sustrans Cymru’s North Wales manager Glyn Evans said: “The Welsh Government was rightly proud when the National Assembly passed the Active Travel Act in 2013, but its current plans for the A487 bypass risks riding roughshod over that landmark law.
“If the Welsh Government is to go ahead with the bypass scheme, it is essential that it does so in a way that protects safety and improves access for walking and cycling.
“The route cuts across a number of important walking and cycling routes, and as it stands, the current proposals will make it harder and more dangerous for people.”
Mr Evans added: “We’re building a bypass that will last for generations. Mistakes made will be set in stone for years to come, it’s vital Welsh Government gets the layout right the first time round.”