FIRST MINISTER Carwyn Jones visited Anglesey this morning to announce that work on a third Menai crossing could begin in as little as three years time.

Mr Jones said that the "Purple option" has been chosen as the preferred route - which would see a new bridge constructed to the east of the existing Britannia Bridge.

Additional facilities for pedestrians and cyclists would also be included as part of the scheme.

An appraisal of the options available for a third crossing revealed that the Purple option provides the highest economic benefits and offers high value for money.

A public consultation also backed that option with 25 per cent of respondents selecting it as their first choice.

"There is very strong case for increasing capacity across the Menai and I am delighted the Welsh Government is taking action to address the issue," said the First Minister.

"The Britannia Bridge is the only section of the route which is single carriageway and we know this reduction in lanes leads to congestion at peak times and during the tourist seasons.

"Based on the appraisal undertaken on the options, the Purple option performs best and would be vital in improving journey times, strengthening the A55’s resilience, and ensuring safer travel across the Menai Strait.

"It will also provide economic benefits and ensure the route is fit for purpose as traffic volume is expected to increase over the years to come."

As part of the next stages of the decision, a procurement exercise will take place to appoint Technical Advisors to develop the preliminary design and prepare for publication of draft Orders and an Environmental Statement.

Further analysis is also required as part of the next stage of development to determine which form of bridge is most suitable. The cost of the structure is dependent on this analysis.

Cabinet Secretary for economy and transport, Ken Skates said: “We have made it known for a long time our intention to build a third Menai crossing and today’s announcement is a significant step forward in delivering exactly that.

"The Purple option provides us with an opportunity to develop a crossing which would allow people to seamlessly cross the Menai Strait and support future projects such as Wylfa Newydd.

"We fully understand the sensitivity of placing a new crossing over the Menai Strait and further visualisation assessment and analysis work will now take place before the bridge type is selected and taken forward to the next stage of scheme development.

"The Welsh Government is investing hundreds of millions of pounds in North Wales and the announcement of the Purple Option as the preferred route for the third Menai crossing is yet another great example of our commitment to the region."