Mersey Gateway Bridge contract goes to Merseylink

Simon Donohue

The Merseylink consortium has been named as preferred bidder for the £600m contract to design, build and operate Liverpool's Mersey Gateway Bridge.

Expected to carry 80,000 vehicles a day, the six-lane toll bridge will span the Mersey between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes and relieve congestion on the ageing Silver Jubilee Bridge.

Merseylink has been awarded the contract to design, build, finance, maintain and operate the bridge.

Construction is expected to start in early 2014 and last three-and-a-half years, with the bridge scheduled to be opened to traffic in the first half of 2017.

Mersey Gateway is being partly funded by the Department for Transport. Announcing the contract, Halton Borough Council and Merseylink said they had identified savings amounting to "tens of millions of pounds" on the projected public sector spend.

The Merseylink consortium comprises Spanish infrastructure and environmental services company FCC, Bilfinger, Macquarie, Samsung CT and Kier.

Other finalists for the contract included multinational companies Balfour Beatty, Bouygues, Hochtief and Iridium.

Rafael Foulquie, FCC Construccion UK & Ireland managing director, said: "We are thrilled to be announced as preferred bidder for the Mersey Gateway Bridge.

"We have been expanding our UK operations steadily, and to be selected for such an important project – not just in terms of infrastructure, but also economically – is a huge step for us.

"This is FCC Construccion's second PPP project in the UK, and we are delighted to have succeeded with our design that is both innovative and cost effective.

"We are looking forward to being a part of the substantial benefits the new bridge will bring locally, both in terms of local employment and urban regeneration."

The Mersey Gateway Bridge will be built to the east of the Silver Jubilee Bridge, which was inaugurated in the 1960s.

The core of the contract is the construction of the bridge itself, which will measure 1km in length.

The cable-stayed structure will be 42 metres wide and have a maximum height of 125 metres.

The project also includes upgrading 7km of access roads, building 2.5km of new toll road, and upgrading 4.5 km of toll roads, as well other communication links.

A multi-lane free-flow tolling system will be installed which will read number plates automatically without requiring traffic to stop.

The construction, operation and maintenance of the new bridge will create 4,600 jobs, both direct and indirect.

In the last 15 years, FCC has built over one million square metres of bridges of all types using all modern construction methods, including the Alamillo bridge in Seville, the Otopeni bridge in Bucharest and the Basarab viaduct in Romania.

It is currently building major bridges such as the Centennial Bridge in Panama and the Gerald Desmond Bridge in Los Angeles.

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Hi I’m Sheena Easton and my baby takes the morning train and works nine-to-five.

By Sheena Easton

And another one bites the dust for Balfour Beatty. No wonder they are closing two regional offices!

By John Brown

Excellent news. A welcome boost to construction sector employment and productivity, with further multiplier effects, for the North West economy.