The Second Severn Crossing

button_lang_frenchThe Second Severn Crossing

The Wales Coast Path passes beneath the western approach viaduct of the Second Severn Crossing, which was opened on 5 June 1996 by Prince Charles.

The contract to build a second motorway bridge over the estuary was awarded in 1990 in response to growing traffic volumes on the Severn Bridge, which opened in 1966 and often had to be closed during high winds. The new cable-stayed bridge cost £330m to construct and is 948 metres long. The whole structure, including both approach viaducts, is more than 5km long. It has three lanes per direction and is less vulnerable to disruption in high winds.

The crossing was constructed by a consortium, Severn River Crossing Plc, which also took on management of the original bridge. The agreement allowed the consortium to collect tolls to recover its expenditure on constructing the new bridge and maintaining both bridges.

The consortium's concession ended in January 2018 and the Second Severn Crossing passed into the UK Government’s ownership and management. In April 2018 the Government announced that the bridge would be renamed the Prince of Wales Bridge.

The Second Severn Crossing was a misnomer because it was the third bridge over the estuary and the fourth fixed transport crossing. The first to open, in 1879, was the Severn railway bridge, which crossed near Purton (east of Lydney) and was demolished in the 1960s. The second, the Severn Tunnel, was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1886. It is about 400 metres north of the Second Severn Crossing, and passes below the eastern end of the English approach viaduct.

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