Transport minister Norman Baker is expected in Liverpool on Wednesday to visit the completed final phase of the controversial Edge Lane improvements between M62 and city centre.
Edge Lane West, between Botanic Place and Hall Lane, largely funded by the Government, included widening the road to make it a dual carriageway, reducing bottlenecks and improving safety and journey times into and out of the city centre. Work on the final phase of the scheme was carried out by contractor Birse Civils.
The final phase was delayed for nearly a decade by legal challenges and public inquiries led by campaigning local resident Elizabeth Pascoe, who opposed demolition of housing to make way for road works and Housing Market Renewal Initiative development by Bellway Homes. The plans were tabled in 2001 at the outset of HMRI. Pascoe succeeded in having a compulsory purchase order quashed on a technicality in 2006 but this was overturned in 2008. Work began in 2009.
The council has also spent £19m highway improvements on the adjacent Hall Lane, which were completed last year, as part of the new dual carriageway between the M62 Rocket Junction and the city centre.
Baker said: "I am looking forward to seeing these schemes for myself. The Government is committed to making sure that the infrastructure is in place to help rebalance the economy and drive growth in all regions of the UK."
The newly-elected Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Joe Anderson, said: "Every major city needs to have really good arterial road links and these improvements are something that Liverpool people – and in particular the business community – have been requesting for decades. It's fantastic that it's now become a reality.
"Edge Lane is Liverpool's front door, and the first thing many people see when coming into the city – so it's important it looks good. For many years this wasn't the case, but now, thanks to this project, we have a gateway into the city that we can be proud of.
"The completion of this scheme is a major landmark for the city, and forms part of our wider plans to transform the area with a major regeneration scheme which will deliver new homes, boost business and create thousands of jobs."
Cllr Malcolm Kennedy, Cabinet member for regeneration and transport, said: "I'm delighted that the minister is coming to Liverpool to see the completion of this vital scheme for our city. These works have brought about huge improvements to Edge Lane and will benefit motorists for many years to come.
"Edge Lane is the most important route into the city centre as well as the city's link to the M62, and this work has created a safer, more attractive and less congested route into the heart of the city. The completion of this final section of highway improvements marks the end of a journey which began at Edge Lane Drive in 2006.
"The enhancements to the carriageway, alongside the new retail, residential and commercial schemes will provide a fitting gateway into the city."
During his visit, the minister will receive a presentation on the scheme at Liverpool Innovation Park, before being taken on a mini-bus tour of Edge Lane, stopping at Botanic Road, Edge Lane junction and Hall Lane South.
The council's joint venture with Mouchel, 2020 Liverpool, designed the highway improvement schemes for Edge Lane and Hall Lane on behalf of the city council – including concept and branding, as well as providing project management on site.
Chris Lavery, Managing Director of 2020 Liverpool, said: "We're proud to have been an integral part of obtaining the funding, designing and delivering this exciting project which forms the final link to open up the primary route into the city from the national motorway network. This project will play a major role in the continued regeneration of the city."