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DAILY POST YOUR VOICE IN WALES: 'Gleaming icon' loses its lustre.

AT 190 metres long, the Celtic Gateway is just two metres snorter than the height of the iconic Gateway Arch in St Louis, Missouri - symbolising the opening-up of the American west from the Mississippi by the early pioneers.

At this point, however, any similarity between the new Holyhead elevated walkway and its namesake, the tallest memorial in the United States, ends.

The Celtic Gateway, a steel and concrete pedestrian bridge, is suspended from two arches of one metre stainless steel tubing.

The legs of the catenary-shaped Gateway Arch are, in cross-section, equilateral triangles, measuring 16.5 metres at the base.

The stainless steel-covered Arch is also, after 42 years, still in shining shape. Sadly the same cannot be said for the much-trumpeted "gleaming icon" which, after a mere three months, is looking decidedly tarnished.

Admittedly the Celtic Gateway only cost pounds 5m against the Si5m of the Arch way back in 1965.

But Caernarfon's magnificent Galeri arts centre complex only cost pounds 7.5m and has virtually reinvented the town's image and amenities.

Holyhead needs more than just big names and words for projects which lose lustre after just a few weeks of rain. Critics are quite right to question the quality of the imported stainless steel now that the structure is turning a deeply unattractive shade of brown.

The grandiosely labelled "Celtic Gateway" is, as visitors will know, a walkway from port's railway station to the High Street from which the views of the town are not, currently, the finest.

Nevertheless it is a link which, if the High Street finally becomes a visitor attraction in its own right, will prove an invaluable shortcut for the hordes of dollar-laden American cruise ship tourists to sample the irresistible delights of high-class jewellers, Celtic art and craft designers, restaurants and expensive chic boutiques.

In the meantime we need to get the infrastructure right. While we are doing so, if we are to have an expensive "gateway" for the future, the least we can do is ensure we don't knock the thing together with cheap iron bolts which rust and stain the concrete.

The lesson perhaps is that we should always beware building something up to be something it cannot yet be because we risk exposing it to ridicule and its eager visitors to disappointment.

The "gateway" will no doubt one day play its perceived part in the renaissance of Holyhead. Until then let's go easy on the hype.
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 24, 2007
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