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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 May 2006, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
'Green' road helps bats to cross
School children open near road at Llanystumdwy
Children from Ysgol Llanystumdwy opened the road
Local school children have officially opened a "green" road improvement project in Gwynedd.

The four-mile stretch of the A497 between Pwllheli and Criccieth used to be notorious for accidents, some fatal.

Now a 5m project covering 6.5km/ 4 miles of carriageway, three roundabouts and three bridges, funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, has been built.

A special bat "bridge" will also help the six species living nearby to cross the new road.

"This road will make a big difference to traffic in the area," said local councillor Margaret Griffith.

As a result of the construction methods, the scheme won the UK Gold Award as part of the Considerate Constructors Scheme.

"The opening of this new and improved road between Abererch and Llanystumdwy (on the road from Pwllheli to Criccieth) underlines our commitment to making Gwynedd a good place to live and work," said Gwynedd council chairman Arwel Jones.

Local people were included as much as possible in the development and construction of the road.

New road at Llanystumdwy
The new road replaces a twisting narrow road from Criccieth to Pwllheli

"Working in partnership with the local community and protecting the local environment were a top priority for our project team from day one," said Dewi Vaughan Rowlands, the council's strategic environment director.

He said a key feature was the creation of a community green route providing a safer and attractive route for cyclists and pedestrians.

"It will hopefully encourage local travellers to leave their cars at home and make their journeys by more environmentally friendly modes of transport," he added.

The local bat population, and other wildlife, were also considered from an early stage.

Bats send out sound and move around following the 'echo' sent back from structures on the ground. So during construction any hedges or structures which were removed were replaced with something else - one being the bat "bridge".

The "bridge" is a tall pole lengths of thick wire crossing to the other side of the road and is in exactly the same spot as where the bats previously used trees to go through a wooded area.

"This project has been quite exciting, as bat behaviour is to some extent 'learnt', but they seem to be using the new structures" said Alex Jones, the environmental clerk of works on the scheme.

"The bats are only now getting active (after the winter) and we will be continuing to monitor them to see how they get on," she added.

Wildlife closer to the ground have been provided with special tunnels under the road, and mammal-proof fencing has also been erected.

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