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RETRO REPORT; Severn Bridge construction begins.

November 1961 - How we covered...

THE Severn Bridge would have a greater effect on the main traffic route into South Wales than the M1 had on the London-Birmingham trunk road, the Minister of Transport, Ernest Marples, said at Chepstow yesterday.

A copy of yesterday's Western Mail was among the documents which Mr Marples, pictured, placed in a sealed capsule and which he later buried in the first cubic yard of concrete in the Severn Bridge foundations. The Minister was visiting the site to begin the first part of the actual construction work - the engineering equivalent of laying a foundation stone.

He said afterwards that he could not indicate what the toll charges on the bridge were likely to be and warned that it would be useless for the South Wales authorities to agitate for the removal of the toll after the bridge was completed.

"The most interesting thing about the bridge is the enormous effect it will have on traffic between Birmingham, London and South Wales," he said.

"It will alter out of all recognition the pattern of traffic between these towns. It will make a bigger difference than the M1 did to traffic on the A5. We are now considering the method of collection of the toll and will try and get the speediest and most efficient method which will cause the least delay. We may use automatic equipment."

People were impatient about the road construction and did not realise that it was limited by the resources available, particularly the amount of skilled labour. It would not be possible to build another big suspension bridge at the same time, for instance, he said.

The Minister began his tour on the Aust side by walking down more than 100 steps from the top of Aust Cliff to the foreshore below.

Edited by Tony Woolway
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 4, 2010
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