M53 bridge repair funding cleared

A £70m scheme to strengthen the Bidston Moss Viaduct in Wirral to allow heavier vehicles to use all lanes will go ahead after the Department for Transport said it would pay for the bulk of the work.

Transport minister Paul Clark said: "This new investment underlines the Government's commitment to delivering major improvements in the North West.

"The Bidston Moss Viaduct connects the M53 and local roads in Wirral to the Kingsway Tunnel under the Mersey and is a key strategic route for motorists travelling to and from Liverpool city centre, the city's port and other North West transport links.

"More than £66m of Government money will be spent on strengthening the viaduct's structure. I welcome this partnership work between my department, local authorities and the Highways Agency."

Strengthening works to the Bidston Moss Viaduct will mean the current weight limit restricting vehicles using the outside lane of the central structure to 3.5 tonnes will be lifted. This will improve traffic flow across the structure which carries around 63,000 vehicles a day, including approximately 5,000 HGVs.

The scheme was jointly developed by Wirral Council, Merseytravel and the Highways Agency. The next step will be for the main works to start on site in May. Design and preparatory site work started at the beginning of 2009 and the strengthening work will be completed by spring 2012.

The Highways Agency expresses cost estimates as a range. The current range estimate is a minimum of £82m to a maximum of £97m. The mid-point of this range, £90m, is used for budget planning purposes of which £20m has already been incurred on this scheme.

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