UK-based Hochtief Construction is set to start work on a £20m project to replace the wooden Pont Briwet rail bridge near Porthmadog in North Wales with a new viaduct.
Network Rail has awarded the contract to replace the bridge, dating back to 1860s, which links the areas of Penrhyndeudraeth and Talsarnau.
The existing 22-span bridge carries the single track Cambrian Coast railway from Dovey Junction to Pwllheli and a single track toll road across the Afon Dwyryd for cars.
Replacement work on site is scheduled to start in May 2013 and is expected to be completed in February 2015.
Compared to the current 8.5m-wide structure, the new bridge will be 18m wide and built in phases in order to avoid disruptions to train services.
Design work, ground investigation and environmental surveys were provided by Network Rail and the Gwynedd Council.
Following completion, the existing toll fees will be removed on the new bridge, which will host a single track railway and a two-lane public highway route.
As part of plans to provide faster journey times on the route, the speed limit across the new bridge will be increased from 30km/h to 65km/h.
The project is being part-funded by Network Rail, as well as over £9m coming from the European Regional Development Fund, administered by the Welsh Government, which has also made a contribution of £5m through the Mid-Wales Regional Transport Consortium (TraCC).
In addition to providing funds for the project, Gwynedd Council will also be responsible for managing the project.
Network Rail’s route managing director for Wales Mark Langman said the replacement of the existing Pont Briwet Bridge will provide better transport between Harlech, Penryndeudraeth and Porthmadog.
"This scheme joins a number of other rail improvement projects in North Wales that will help deliver better journeys and boost economic growth in the area," Langman said.
Image: The new Pont Briwet bridge is to be built in phases and will be completed in February 2015. Photo: courtesy of Network Rail.