A CALL has been made for a public inquiry into a major infrastructure project, the new £30 million Pont-ar Ddyfi bridge at Machynlleth.

A Gwynedd County Councillor claims that the project, which is set to start in autumn 2018, is a “monstrous waste of money”.

The 17th century bridge is a pinch point on the A487 which is one of the main roads between north and south Wales.

In October, the Welsh Government held a public exhibition of the plans at Y Plas, explaining in detail the proposals for the new bridge.

Cllr Mike Stevens, who represents the Tywyn ward in Gwynedd, believes that the project needs to be halted so that other options, such as a bypass can be looked at again.

Tywyn is only 12 miles away from Machynlleth and residents pass through Machynlleth to use services and work in Aberystwyth.

Cllr Stevens, said: “Building this is going to be a monumental waste of money.

“I have reservations on several key points, the flooding, congestion in the town and going under a low bridge.

“It’s just preposterous.

“Time has been built in the schedule to allow for a public inquiry.

“I would like to see a public inquiry with an independent view.

“To me a bypass makes more sense.

“My constituents, rely on this link for hospital services and all you need is a couple of heavy good vehicles going through Machynlleth to create problems.”

“Bypasses have worked for both Porthmadog and Dolgellau, unfortunately when this was being discussed, Gwynedd Council was kept in the dark.”

In Machynlleth itself, a bypass is seen as detrimental to the town's businesses.

Machynlleth County Councillor Michael Williams said: “Philosophically speaking I’ve always been supportive of a new bridge and happy to leave the design to those who know best, the engineers.”

Cllr Williams added: “I remember when the cabinet minister at the time, Edwina Hart, came here to a public meeting at the Owain Glyndwr Centre, to discuss the project – only one person spoke up for a bypass.

“This is because it would have been detrimental to the town’s businesses and the thriving market.”

It is expected that work on the new bridge will start in the autumn of 2018 and the road would be open by the summer of 2020.

Due to flooding the road is often closed which causes traffic to be diverted for up to 30 miles.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The plan is to build a new single carriageway road joining the existing A487 south east of Pont-ar-Ddyfi.

“The new road would cross the River Dyfi approximately 480 metres upstream of the existing bridge.”

The spokesman added that it would protect the Grade II listed bridge, improve safety and the road network and ensure Machynlleth remains a vibrant town.