Major new Mersey Gateway Project routes will open to drivers today (22 December), eight weeks ahead of schedule.
Roads from Daresbury and Bridgewater Expressways to the southbound Central Expressway towards Halton Lea will be the first in a series of openings and temporary road closures as the overall scheme approaches its final calendar year of construction.
Progress on the Mersey Gateway Project, which has been recognised by KPMG as one of the ‘top 100 infrastructure projects around the globe’, will continue on 23 December with the reopening of the slip road from Weston Link to Western Point Expressway southbound (towards M56 Junction 12).
Then on 3 January a three-month closure of the northbound Central Expressway between Halton Brow and Bridgewater Junction will begin, followed by a three-month lane closure on a short stretch of the southbound Weston Point Expressway to allow the construction team to remove part of the area’s Rocksavage Bridge West.
The year ahead will also see the opening of the Mersey Gateway Project’s centrepiece – a six-lane toll bridge linking Widnes and Runcorn – which is due to be ready in autumn 2017.
The bridge opening will also coincide with a nine to 12-month closure of the Silver Jubilee Bridge for refurbishment, and it will be tolled once it is brought back into use. Eligible Halton residents will be able to access the bridges for free after paying a small charge to register.
Commenting on the progress Hugh O’Connor, general manager for Merseylink which has been contracted to design, build, finance and operate the Mersey Gateway Project, says: “We’re very pleased to be opening the links between the Daresbury and Bridgewater Expressways and the Central Expressway ahead of schedule.
“As we move into 2017 we’re starting quite an intense final phase of the works but the good news is that this coming year will see more and more roads re-opening and ultimately see the new bridge open to traffic in the autumn.”