The A57 lifting bridge, which has seen a series of delays and legal wrangling between Peel, Trafford and Salford City Council, has opened to traffic.
Salford City Council announced yesterday afternoon that safety checks on the bridge by contractors Hochtief and Buckingham had been completed and approvals provided by the Highways Authority and Transport for Greater Manchester to allow the bridge to open.
However, the council added discussions were still taking place with Peel over “maintenance and ongoing liabilities”, but said it had been agreed the bridge would open “as soon as works and approvals were completed”.
The lifting bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal, which forms part of the wider £32m Western Gateway Infrastructure Scheme, was originally slated to open in December 2016.
It was delayed after a 100-tonne section of the bridge collapsed in May last year during a weight test after cables supporting the structure snapped. The bridge is designed to be lifted by the cables to allow ships to pass beneath. Nobody was injured during the incident.
A spokesperson for Peel Land & Property, said: “Peel has been committed to improving the road infrastructure in and around Port Salford, the AJ Bell Stadium and Trafford City [Event City, Trafford Centre] for many years and, as a company, has invested £35m into the new lifting bridge and extension of the A57 from Irlam.
“We have been working closely alongside our contractors and colleagues in Salford and Trafford councils. We are delighted that today’s opening of the new bridge and road will form part of the highway network, benefitting the general public, local economy and community.”
Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “I am extremely pleased to announce the opening of the road and the lifting bridge today, after weeks of frustration and concern from residents in Irlam, Cadishead, Barton and the surrounding area, this is much welcomed news.”
“Salford City Council are still in discussions with Peel Land & Property over the liability for maintaining and operating the bridge but I’m pleased that Peel Land and Property has agreed a way forward with ourselves and Trafford Council, in the interests of local residents and our communities.
“My sympathies go out to the residents who have been inconvenienced, but I am confident we can now move forward in the interests of our residents.”
Cllr Sean Anstee, leader of Trafford Council, said: “I am delighted that the new A57 road and lifting bridge at Barton is finally going to be open to the public on Wednesday.
“All parties have successfully worked together to ensure the necessary approvals are in place in time for the bridge to open before Christmas – great news for everyone involved, especially the local communities who have been anxiously waiting for this news.”
The WGIS is subject to a legal dispute between Peel and Trafford Council, along with Highways England, over the contributions to be made by developers to the project – Peel’s contention is that Himor, developer of the Future Carrington scheme, should be asked to contribute to the £32m WGIS, and it is seeking a judicial review into the consent granted Himor in April.