The Severn Bridges

Our bridges across the River Severn connect England and Wales, providing a vital link for businesses and communities. Here you can find information about current and planned closures of the bridges.

The Severn Bridges
Open - M4 Prince Of Wales Bridge (both directions)
Open - M48 Severn Bridge (both directions)

Scheduled Maintenance

Like any major structure, the bridges need frequent maintenance to keep them in a safe and serviceable condition. Sometimes we need to close a bridge to keep road users and our team safe while we work.

The road surface on the M48 Severn Bridge is much narrower than a typical motorway, so there is less space for us to carry out maintenance. This means that we need to close the Severn Bridge more often than most other motorways.

We understand that these closures cause disruption to road users and local communities, and we’re striving to keep the bridges open as often as we can.

Our work isn’t always visible. We may be carrying out repairs underneath the road surface, or waiting for construction materials to dry or set before continuing our work.

If we’re planning to close either of the bridges in the next seven days, you’ll find further details below:

For the week 23/06/2024 to 29/06/2024

High winds traffic management

Why do we close the M48 Severn Bridge during windy weather?

Our number one priority is that everybody stays safe, whether they're a member of the public or part of our workforce.

During windy conditions, the Severn Estuary can funnel strong gusts across the bridges, which can be hazardous to traffic.

This is why we sometimes need to restrict access to the Severn Bridge for the safety of our road users. When this happens, we divert traffic on to the M4 Prince of Wales Bridge.

The M4 Prince of Wales Bridge has barriers which reduce the effects of wind. The older M48 Severn Bridge doesn't have these barriers.

When do we close the M48 Severn Bridge for windy weather?

When we expect gusts above 40 knots (46mph), we close the M48 Severn Bridge to all traffic until wind speeds have dropped.

If wind speeds exceed 70 knots (80mph), both bridges are closed.

Traffic can still travel between England and Wales by following a diversion using the M5, M50, A40 and A449.

Why is the M48 bridge being closed more frequently?

Our traffic officers previously filtered vulnerable westbound traffic (lorries, motorbikes, and high-sided vehicles) during high winds.

This involved fewer full closures of the bridge. However, it meant that traffic officers had to physically filter vulnerable vehicles on site to stop them travelling on the bridge.

Working in high wind, as well as poor weather and low visibility, became increasingly hazardous for our teams. This is why we decided on safety grounds to stop filtering high sided vehicles and motorcycles during high winds.

Ongoing cable inspection works also mean more bridge closures. During cable inspection, we don't have the option to use leeward lanes.

For example, we've made 23 bridge closures during cable inspection compared to 10 in the year before. We wouldn't have needed 16 of these closures if we had been able to use leeward lanes.

We’ve yet to experience a winter season post-pandemic without filtering. We won't see the full effects of our change until cable inspection finishes.

Why has this procedure suddenly changed?

We haven’t filtered traffic on the M48 Severn Bridge since late 2019. Over the last two winters, Covid19 work restrictions prevented us from filtering traffic in windy weather.

After we reviewed our high wind traffic management plans in 2022, we decided to stop filtering completely for safety reasons.

As part of this review, we adjusted the wind thresholds for closing the bridge:

  • 30 knots – 40mph speed limits in place
  • 35 knots – leeward lanes closed with red X signs
  • 40 knots – bridge closed
  • 70 knots both bridges closed

Why is this happening when the wind doesn’t feel strong?

We appreciate it's frustrating when it doesn’t seem necessary to close the bridge, but our decisions are based on robust information.

We use dedicated forecasts and monitoring equipment on the bridge itself. These are more accurate than online forecasts or wind speeds measured in neighbouring communities

During a bridge closure for high winds, will the foot and cycle path be closed too?

We don’t routinely close the shared paths during wind events.

We may need to close them if there is:

  • a critical incident on the bridge
  • a severe storm.

Otherwise shared paths will remain open.

Background

The M48 Severn Bridge was built in the 1960s, replacing the ferry service which had operated across the Severn for many years. It consists of four separate structures – the Aust Viaduct, the Severn Bridge, the Beachley Viaduct and the Wye Bridge.

The M4 Prince of Wales Bridge opened in 1996, increasing capacity and providing a more direct route between England and the cities of Newport and Cardiff.

Tolls to cross the bridges into Wales were in place until 2018 before being removed.

Keep in touch

Stay up to date with information about the bridges by checking the Severn Bridges Twitter feed

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