The announcement that there will be lane closures on the old Severn Bridge until the autumn should be a wake up call to the bridges long-term future. The old Severn Bridge opened in 1966 and is nearly 50 years old - it won't be around forever. At this moment in time I cannot envisage any Westminster government or even a government in Cardiff Bay agreeing or funding a replacement bridge. The closure of the old Severn Bridge will directly impact on commuters and businesses in south east Monmouthshire, the Wye Valley, the Forest of Dean and south west Gloucestershire who use the old bridge to travel to and from work and to trade.
If there is not be another Severn Crossing to replace the original Severn Crossing then we will be back to having only one Severn crossing. Changes will then need to made to the existing M48 / M4 including an M48 junction for Caldicot and a direct feed into the eastbound M4 this side of the current Second Severn crossing. This would replace the current arrangement whereby current users of the M48 have to use the existing Magor M4 junction to join the M4 eastbound to cross the second Severn Bridge and the same junction to gain return access to the M48.
A possible solution to this potential transport bottleneck may be the construction of a joint road and rail bridge across the Severn, near Lydney. This bridge could provide a partial solution to the chronic traffic congestion in Chepstow and also provide a much-needed shorter more direct rail route to the east as well as dealing with as yet unaddressed problem of the ageing Severn Tunnel. This solution is wholly in England it would provide a more accessible route to Bristol and the M5/M4 to commuters and businesses based in south east Wales - it would also in my opinion stand a much better chance of being funded by an increasing Anglo-centric Westminster parliament.
Westminster needs not just to come clean on both the future of the Severn Bridge tolls, which are a tax on commuters, business and jobs. Plaid Cymru is committed to cutting the bridge tolls initially to £2 pounds. Westminster also needs to entirely open up about the medium to long-term future of the old Severn Bridge and any replacement bridge. I have long stated that the National Assembly should have control of the Severn Bridges, it should also be directly involved in any discussions about the future of the old Severn Bridge as well, as the record shows that successive Westminster governments have consistently failed to protect our interests.