Whilst the final cosmetic design for the Mersey Gateway Bridge is yet to be completed, the project to enhance transport capacity is gaining support locally, and will help support growth in the North West.
The project will see a cable-stayed one kilometre span cross the Manchester Ship Canal and the Mersey to allow better transport capacity between Runcorn and Widness. This will be the centerpiece of a 9.5km route, and a 2,300 metre river crossing that will help to better link Merseyside with the national motorway network in Cheshire.
Three piers are planned for the bridge, each rising 135 metres above the riverbank. These will carry the two 300 metre long outer spans that cross deep water channels in the river. It is hoped this design will minimize any impact on the river’s estuary and the environment.
The project was conceived as the region faced up to the over-congestion of the Silver Jubilee Bridge. That crossing now operates with 80,000 vehicles crossing it each day, ten times the level of traffic that it was built for, and almost twice the capacity for which it was expanded to accommodate in 1977.
With three lanes of traffic flowing in both directions, the new bridge will help to carry a significantly higher level of traffic with less delay.
The final design of the new bridge has yet to be revealed, but it will use some valuable innovations. Among these will be the removal of toll plazas. Instead of conventional tolls, vehicles crossing will be subject to Open Road Tolling (ORT). This will see people charged for crossing the river through camera technology recording their details as they pass.
With the government focusing heavily on infrastructure as a route to growth in the economy, this £431 million plan is a big opportunity to generate activity. It has been made the centre of a regional strategy for that purpose, and it is hoped it will serve as a catalyst for regeneration in Halton and the wider North West.
Mersey Gateway in numbers
- 1.5 kilometres – distance from the Silver Jubilee Bridge
- 470 - Permanent full-time equivalent jobs during construction
- 4,640 – Estimated permanent new jobs through associated regeneration
- £61.9 million – predicted annual economic value by 2030
- 70% - Proportion of construction costs to be funded by tolls
- 28.5 hectares – Size of the nature reserve to be established around the bridge
- 2.3km – Length of the river crossing
- 1km – Length of the cable stayed span over the river and canal
- £431 million – projected cost of the project