Details of the first phases of preparatory work on the UK’s Mersey Gateway Project follow the approval of a planning application for improvements to the Bridgewater Junction in Runcorn, between Manchester and Liverpool.
Halton Borough Council’s planning committee has approved Merseylink’s planning application for the improvements, which are said to be an essential part of the preparation for construction to start in earnest on the £600 million bridge project early next year.
The project’s centrepiece is a new six-lane toll bridge over the River Mersey. The existing Silver Jubilee Bridge will also be tolled as part of the project.
Between now and Christmas, the Merseylink consortium – named in June as the preferred bidder for the project – will be carrying out work in both Runcorn and Widnes that includes clearing trees from sites in the Astmoor, Bridgewater and Ditton areas, and survey work at sites on both sides of the river.
Once contracts have been signed with the council, Merseylink will then start work on an access road across the Salt Marsh on the south side of the River Mersey.
Following on from this, a temporary jetty will be positioned in the river, allowing construction of coffer dams to take place. The work on the coffer dams is scheduled to start early next year, with the entire project to be completed in 2017.
Merseylink project director Chris Rhead said, “This work is an exciting indication that this long-awaited project is going to start to become a reality. The way is now clear for the programme to be delivered.”
Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Borough Council, said, “Once the project reaches financial close when all the contractual formalities are completed, Merseylink will be able to start making real progress on delivering our much needed new bridge.”
He added, “The council has already done a lot of advance works to allow the project to progress, but this will be the first time that the Merseylink consortium will be doing the work, so it marks an important new era for Mersey Gateway.