Second Severn River Crossing, UK
The Second Severn River Crossing was John Laing’s first UK PPP investment in 1990. John Laing was a co-developer and joint major shareholder in Severn River Crossing plc, the project company responsible for the construction and operation of the new crossing linking England and Wales as well as the operation of the original suspension bridge. The new 5.2 km cable-stayed river crossing opened 1996.
The first Severn Bridge, a tolled four-lane suspension bridge carrying the M4 motorway between England and South Wales, was opened in 1966. Over subsequent years, traffic volumes grew significantly – by the mid-1980s, traffic had tripled, with congestion a frequent feature, compounded by occasional high winds, breakdowns and accidents which, at times led to closure of the Bridge for safety reasons.
In 1990, the concession was awarded to Severn River Crossing plc and included a requirement to operate the existing Severn Bridge, including responsibility for managing and maintaining the structure, with a view to operating both bridges as a single entity. Following Royal Assent to the Severn Bridges Act 1992, construction of a new, cable-stayed bridge with a dual three-lane road began in April 1992. The overall design meant that the new bridge was much more resistant to high winds, carried a much larger volume traffic and also reduced the length of the journey between England and Wales.
The Second Severn Crossing was opened on 5 June 1996 by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales.
The project company was funded by tolls levied on traffic using both bridges to fund the project financing until the end of the concession. John Laing remained a major shareholder in Severn River Crossing plc until 2018 when the concession came to an end and the bridge was returned to public ownership.