Pont Briwet was reopened to traffic at 2pm on Monday 13th July 2015, after a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated by children from local schools in hi-vis jackets in the pouring rain, acting as human shields in case the local populace seized the opportunity to eliminate politicians and contractors.
Pont Briwet connects Llandecwyn to Penrhyndeudraeth, and hence Harlech to Porthmadog. It used to be a single lane toll bridge before it was shut in 2013 for rebuilding.
The completion date for the mighty 100 metre span overran by well over a year. Neither Gwynedd Council nor the contractors Hochtief demonstrated the remotest sign of remorse for crippling the already fragile local economy.
When the old bridge was open, the journey from Harlech to Penrhyndeudraeth was 6 miles and took 15 minutes. While the bridge was being rebuilt the journey was 14 miles and took 31 minutes — that is if you were lucky with the convoy system which led vehicles at 10mph along the narrow road via Maentwrog.
On Thursday July 16th I posted the following blog on Harlech.org:
If you have read some of my whinges over the years you’ll have heard of the appalling build overrun at Pont Briwet, the link between Harlech and Porthmadog.
It used to be a 100 metre toll bridge until it was closed for rebuilding in 2013.
For reasons not disclosed to we οἱ πολλοί by Gwynedd Council or the contractors Hochtief, it took 18 months longer to complete than scheduled. It finally opened last Monday, July 15th.
Then today this news report emerged:
“A German company has been found to be the biggest tax evader in Greece. A court in Athens found that Hochtief, the German company that was running the “Eleftherios Venizelos” Athens International airport was not paying VAT for 20 years. It is estimated that Hochtief, will have to pay more than 500 million Euros for VAT arrears. Together with other outstanding payments, like those to social security funds, it might have to pay more than 1 billion Euros.”
I am sure that Hochthief have paid all their taxes in the UK and that Gwynedd Council has been open and transparent in all its dealings with them, despite not informing the local population of any progress during construction.