As you’ll all be aware the A55 was badly affected by flooding over the Christmas period, when exceptional levels of rainfall hit North Wales.
I was pleased last week to announce that advanced drainage works on one of the areas affected, between junctions 12 and 13, can begin 12 months early, subject to the consent of landowners.
The accelerated drainage works can take place as a result of an extra investment of £0.5m by the Welsh Government.
This work is part of a much larger £15m scheme which may involve a public inquiry, with work expected to start in autumn 2017.
However, part of the scheme to help prevent some of the flooding issues on the A55 can be brought forward and I am pleased to say that the planning work is now underway. Subject to landowners’ consent I expect this project to be constructed in the autumn.
It’s vitally important that we are able to deal with the levels of rainfall we’ve had as these are likely to be more common in future. That is why I wanted to see action taken as quickly as possible, where it was possible to do so.
The accelerated drainage scheme here will involve the construction of earth bunds, ditches and channels to take flood water into the existing water courses. This will help prevent flood water from entering onto the A55. Culverts will also be upgraded to prevent blockages during heavy rainfall.
The major £15m scheme is still going ahead as planned, but the accelerated drainage scheme I have announced will help minimise the risk of flooding in the meantime.
I was also pleased to confirm that work on the Tal-y-bont flood alleviation scheme is due to begin this spring. The £1.9m scheme reducing risk to homes in the village is being funded through the Welsh Government flood programme.
We know that the A55 was not designed for the volumes of traffic we have today. Frankly, if we were building it now it is certain that things would be done differently.
This means that there are a number of issues to resolve to ensure the smooth running of this vital artery for North Wales.
Other plans we have to improve the A55 include the upgrading of junctions 15 and 16 where we currently have the roundabouts for Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan. The roundabouts will be removed and replaced by junctions, improving traffic flow.
Further to the east we are also looking at improvements to address congestions on the A494/A55/A548 Deeside corridor. We are planning a £220m programme of improvements here.
We’ve also invested £42m over three years to improve the tunnels along the A55 in order to improve driver safety. There are improved fire and evacuation procedures and improved lighting in the tunnels as a result of this investment.
In the long term these improvements will make a real difference to the A55 and the experience of drivers who use it every day.