Merseylink, the construction consortium building the £600m Mersey Gateway said it has reassessed the build programme for the remaining works, and the new bridge could open by mid-September, ahead of time and within budget.
Work on the bridge could be finished in a few weeks’ time if the weather allows the final elements of construction to progress quickly.
Even with delays, it is anticipated the Mersey Gateway bridge will open no later than mid-October. The team said it will be able to give a definitive date around five days ahead of opening.
The 1,000-metre long bridge is the centrepiece of the Mersey Gateway project, which covers around nine kilometres of road works and a series of major new junctions running throughout Runcorn and Widnes.
The new bridge will open to traffic at midnight on its opening day, with the Silver Jubilee Bridge being closed just beforehand.
Link roads connecting the new bridge to the M56 and the main route towards Liverpool and the M62 will open at the same time.
Once the new bridge opens, tolls will be in place immediately.
The Silver Jubilee Bridge will be closed for around 12 months of major refurbishment work, but will remain open to cyclists and pedestrians during this time.
There will be about a year’s worth of landscaping and other work to be finished off after the bridge opens, including the removal of the temporary trestle bridge across the river, the planting of trees and shrubs along the route and the reinstatement of the saltmarsh on both sides of the river.
Hugh O’Connor, general manager of Merseylink, said: “All along we said we’d be opening in autumn 2017 and it is great to be able to keep that promise. We’ll update everyone with a firmer date as we get closer to opening but we’re confident that we will open by mid-October at the latest. Much of our final work is weather dependent, but we will be able to give a definitive date around five days ahead of opening.”
Merseylink’s equity partners are Macquarie Capital Group, BBGI, and FCC Construcción. The construction joint venture is made up of Kier Infrastructure, Samsung C&T Corporation, and FCC Construcción.