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

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.

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:

From To Bridge Direction Comments
Tuesday 2 March 2021, 7pm Wednesday 3 March 2021, 6am M4 Eastbound Closure required for maintenance works
Wednesday 3 March 2021, 7pm Thursday 4 March 2021, 6am M4 Westbound Closure required for maintenance works
Thursday 4 March 2021, 7pm Friday 5 March 2021, 6am M48 Westbound Closure required for maintenance works
Friday 5 March 2021, 7pm Saturday 6 March 2021, 6am M48 Eastbound Closure required for maintenance works

High winds

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

The M4 Prince of Wales Bridge has barriers which reduce the effects of these gusts. However, the older design of the M48 Severn Bridge didn’t include these barriers, and we sometimes need to restrict access to the Severn Bridge for the safety of our road users. When this happens, traffic is diverted on to the M4 Prince Of Wales Bridge.

We use dedicated forecasts and monitoring equipment on the bridge, which are more useful than forecasts found in the media and wind speeds measured in neighbouring communities.

When we expect gusts above 40 knots (46mph), we:

  • close the westbound carriageway to motorcycles and vehicles over 6’ 9” (2.06m)
  • close the eastbound carriageway completely
  • close both carriageways at night

We're unable to just close the eastbound carriageway to motorcycles and vehicles over 6’ 9”. This is because the temporary road layout required to keep our Traffic Officers safe at junction 2 causes unacceptable levels of disruption to the local community.

When we anticipate gusts above 60 knots (69mph), we close the Severn Bridge to all traffic until the 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.

Keep in touch

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

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