Mersey bridge changes approved
Halton Borough Council last night (Monday 12 March) approved a series of modifications to the Mersey Gateway project.
The council’s development control committee unanimously approved the changes, which are designed to reduce the impact of the scheme on residents and save £30m on the new six-lane toll bridge over the Mersey between Runcorn and Widnes.
The modifications to the road layouts on either side of the river will reduce projected traffic levels on local routes around Halton Brow in Runcorn, and remove the need for large toll plazas in Widnes. The move to an open road tolling system will mean using cameras and vehicle recognition technology to collect tolls.
On the Runcorn side of the river the approved modifications have largely been developed as a result of listening to previous concerns from local residents and councillors. The project team has adjusted the plans for the slip roads at either side of Halton Brow to reduce projected peak time traffic levels on the slip road alongside Warrington Road by up to 60% and to improve access to facilities at Halton Lea.
Responses to the Mersey Gateway Project team’s consultation on the plans in the autumn of 2011 showed broad support for the modifications, it is claimed. More than 200 people attended exhibitions about the plans in Runcorn and Widnes and a number of people made comments relating to the proposals. These comments showed that:
- 75% of respondents who commented felt the design modifications proposed for Widnes had a positive or neutral impact,
- 71% of respondents who commented felt that the alternative designs for the new bridge and along the route that could improve value for money had a positive or neutral impact,
- 78% of respondents who commented felt that the design modifications proposed along the Central Expressway in Runcorn had a positive or neutral impact, and
- 72% of respondents who commented on the issue supported the principle of open road tolling.
Halton Borough Council leader Rob Polhill said: “These modifications are not major changes, but they do improve the scheme and reduce the overall cost by around £30m. They will also allow us to work closely with the shortlisted bidders to allow them to innovate and deliver the best possible project that works for local residents, commuters, taxpayers and the public purse.”
The approvals also cover possible design modifications for the new bridge. The route of the new crossing is not being changed but the project team would like to increase the design flexibility available to the project company, which will be responsible for confirming the design of the new bridge, by taking into account the proposed construction methods.
The design modifications to the main bridge under consideration would not accommodate a future light rail scheme. Any future light rail proposals would use the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge.
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This article was published on 13 Mar 2012 (last updated on 14 Mar 2012).