Aerial view shows access road across the river to allow construction workers to build the bridge
Aerial view shows access road across the river to allow construction workers to build the bridge

Mersey bridge construction enters third year

Work has started on the main deck of the new six-lane toll bridge that will link the towns of Runcorn and Widnes, and teams will begin to connect the steel support cables to the deck and upper pylons this summer.

GALLERY: See below for latest photographs of bridge construction

‘Trinity’, the project’s movable scaffolding system, has cast the first 250m of the north approach viaduct, and a new MSS is on its way to Halton to build the south approach viaduct.

The local road network is undergoing significant transformation with major junction upgrades taking place right across the borough, including the redesigned M56 Junction 12 roundabout, which is due for completion in June.

Newly released figures for the first two years of work on the Mersey Gateway Project show a direct contribution to the North West economy of £129m.

The figures account for contracts placed by the main contractor, Merseylink Construction Joint Venture, with 351 different suppliers and sub-contractors based within a 30-mile radius of the site in Halton since work began in May 2014.

One supplier heavily involved with the project is Manchester-based construction firm PP O’Connor, which constructed the two haul roads across the saltmarsh on either side of the River Mersey to provide workers with safe access to the estuary to build the new bridge.

The company is also undertaking major demolition works across Halton, including the recent demolition of two road bridges at Ditton in Widnes, and is one of the main suppliers of stone for the project.

Peter O’Connor, managing director, said: “I am hugely proud of the whole team at PP O’Connor for delivering these major works without incident or accident. The health and safety of our team is of paramount importance to PP O’Connor and it is testament to the commitment of our directly employed team that we are able to work so effectively and efficiently, even on the most challenging of sites.”

Another supplier to be awarded a contract with the project is Chester-based drainage specialist, Lanes Group. The company is providing a range of services, including CCTV drainage surveys, drainage cleaning and unblocking, and remedial work on existing and new drainage infrastructure.

Ian Clapham, development manager, said: “Lanes has a strong presence in the North West with operational centres in Preston and Eccles, as well as Chester, and we’re delighted to be supporting such an important project for the whole region.

“Winning the contract has contributed to us investing in a new £350,000 advanced recycler jet vac tanker, and is helping us develop our skills base and highways service offer. This, in turn, strongly underpins our growth strategy which aims to create more jobs in the Lanes NW operation over the next three to five years.”

Hugh O’Connor, general manager of Merseylink, said: “Two years ago we set out to build an iconic structure, an amazing new bridge which will help to transform and improve the road network across Halton. We’re well on the way to doing that and opening on time in autumn 2017.”

Cllr Rob Polhill, leader of Halton Council, said: “The journey from the project’s initial planning stages to now, as we head into the third year of construction, is truly remarkable. Not only is the physical landscape of our borough changing rapidly, the wider impact, including investment into the local and regional economy, is a testament to the strategic importance of the scheme. I am delighted that the project is enabling such significant growth and prosperity.”

The Mersey Gateway Project will be one of the largest infrastructure initiatives in the UK over the coming years. The bridge will feature a 1,000m long cable stay bridge consisting of four spans supported from three towers in the estuary; a unique design where the 80m high central tower will be shorter than the two outer towers, which will be 110m (north tower) and 125m (south tower); a total length (including the bridge and approach viaducts) of 2.13km; a deck carrying six lanes of traffic (three in each direction) with a speed limit of 60mph; up to 30 supporting piers carrying it across the approach viaducts; and a curved approach at each end of the bridge giving varying views of its unique design and maximising its visual impact.

The Merseylink Consortium was appointed by Halton Council as the project company in 2014, on a 30-year contract to design, build, finance and operate the project. Its equity partners are Macquarie Capital Group, BBGI, and FCC Construcción. The construction joint venture is made up of Kier Infrastructure & Overseas, Samsung C&T Corporation and FCC Construcción S.A. Sanef S.A. will deliver and operate the tolling solution for the consortium.

Click image to launch gallery

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