“ A suspension bridge spanning the River Severn between South Gloucestershire, just north of Bristol, England, and Monmouthshire in South Wales, „
The Severn Bridge is an impressive bridge but hardly a major tourist sight in the UK, unless your in to bridges. The Severn Bridge links England and Wales across the Severn Estuary. There are two bridges, the original bridge which is the M42 and the second crossing, the new one, which is the M4.
Although the bridge is an impressive structure the views from the second crossing are very limited thanks to the safety structure that protects the bridge from the high winds that blast the structure. The original bridge is a lot smaller but no less impressive. The road surface is higher up that the pedestrain walkway and the safety barriers are a lot smaller so you are able to get a much better view along the estuary. The severn estuary changes dramatically thanks to the difference in the high and low tide, at low tide the majority of the crossing is just mud flats but when the tide is high it is a much more beautiful view. The second bridge is the same as driving on a motorway whereas the original crossing is a lot rougher with road surface in serious need for some touch up work.
To call the article 'Severn Bridge' is a touch misleading because in fact there are two Severn bridges, although the newer bridge is now commonly called the second Severn crossing I think it is important to clarify which one we are talking about.
The original Severn Bridge:
This bridge was built in 1966 and allows the M48 Motorway to cross the River Severn joining (roughly) Bristol to South Wales. It cost £8million to build, took 5 years, and the builders during that period ate approximately 8 million cornish pasties and said the 'F' word 16 billion times. This bridge replaced the rickety old Aust ferry that I never had the pleasure to go on but I hear from my parents that the bridge was badly needed. The bridge has Grade I listed status which means that if you apply for planning permission to build a conservatory on it, you are unlikely to have it granted.
Here are some technical details for the bridge nerds amongst you. It is a suspension bridge, 1600m long. The towers rise to 136m above the water level and are painted a hideous light blue to make them look as much as possible like the inside of a 1960's hospital. Overall the bridge is now looking very dated and tatty, the road surface in particular is a patchwork quilt of repairs and resurfacing and so is very bumpy. It is also quite narrow and you are relatively close to the side barriers when driving, so make sure you don't nod off or you'll be joining Davy Jones.
The toll for crossing this hideous monstrosity is £5.40 and £16.30 for a HGV. Personally I find this toll absurd, what is the justification for it? All roads need maintenance and cause the government expense so why 'tax' bridges in particular? If you live in Bristol as I do it is of course possible to take an enormous detour through Gloucestershire to skip the bridge, but it would cost as much in petrol to do this as you would gain from missing the toll. Woe is me. I guess I just have to be thankful I don't drive a lorry.
Second Severn Crossing:
This beauty of a bridge was constructed in 1996 and allows the M4 to wind its merry way between England and Wales. It is only a few miles away from the original bridge but of course takes much of the traffic away from it, and allows easier access to Cardiff. I had the pleasure of watching this bridge being built, I would occasionally take trips down to Severn Beach to watch the builders swear, eat their pasties, and move heavy things around. When standing directly under the bridge it is a monumental sight, and I think it's worth a walk there for anyone that lives in the region.
Let me give some stats for the bridge aficionado. It is 5128m long, the deck is 35m containing 3 carriages and a hard-shoulder as opposed to the original bridge's two carriages and no hard-shoulder. The two main central pylons are 149m high.
My experience of the bridge is that it is a modern, smooth, safe bridge. The carriageways are wide and the hard shoulder is useful when you are being chased by the police. I've been across this bridge on many occasions and it never seems to be particularly busy, whereas I remember going across the old bridge before this one was built and it was hell. So certainly the new crossing has worked to solve the congestion problems. This bridge was shut recently due to ice falling off the structure, but don't let that put you off going across, as the temperatures are normally scorching down in Costa del Bristol.
The tolls on this bridge are I believe the same as on the old bridge, and I have already commented on that.
Overall both bridges are superb feats of engineering and the Second Severn Crossing is a worthwhile addition despite being so close to the first bridge.