AN AGEING Flintshire railway bridge is receiving a multi-million pound makeover.
Hawarden railway bridge, near Shotton, will from today benefit from a £5.3 million project to improve its structure.
The main truss of the bridge, which was built in 1887, will be strengthened with new steel plate and given a new coat of paint to protect it from corrosion.
The paintwork will also help spruce up the old structure.
The scheme will see the whole bridge sand-blasted to remove old paint layers and then repainted.
The work will be carried out in 30-metre sections and the structure will be encapsulated to protect the environment from debris from the work. Improvements to the bridge are expected to take about 12 months.
The walkway on the bridge will remain open to public throughout the duration of the work.
The iconic bridge opened in 1889 with the central span designed as a swing bridge to allow shipping to pass.
Hawarden railway bridge has long-provided an important link between Deeside and the original John Summers and Sons steel works.
This link now also provides access to the cycleway along the Dee embankment to Chester and to the Burton Point cycleway, improving access to the Wirral coastline.
Jonathan Pegg, director for route asset management, Network Rail Wales said: “By carrying out this work, we are also safeguarding the future of the railway in this area.
“Hawarden railway bridge serves thousands of passengers on the Borderlands line crossing the River Dee every day and this work will keep it going for many more good years to come.
”A robust railway is vital to a thriving economy.”
Shotton councillor William Barton, who had voiced his concerns about the condition of the bridge has welcomed the improvements.
He said: “I’m very pleased to see maintenance work is being done and it is good to see they are finally getting round to looking after our infrastructure.
“This will make our bridge safer and more aesthetically pleasing.”