The Mersey Gateway Project

Mersey Gateway celebrates four-year anniversary as journey numbers continue to rise

October 29, 2021Ged HerbyNews, Uncategorized

Traffic levels across the river in Halton are almost back to pre-pandemic levels as 14 October marks the fourth anniversary of the Mersey Gateway Bridge opening.

Tolling provider merseyflow is expecting to see two million vehicles making crossings each month across the Mersey Gateway and Silver Jubilee bridges this autumn.

In total, Halton residents, businesses and commuters have made 86.3 million journeys over the River Mersey in Halton since the Mersey Gateway Bridge opened at midnight on 14 October 2017.

The newly-released figures from merseyflow include trips made across both the Mersey Gateway Bridge and the Silver Jubilee Bridge, which re-opened in February this year.

The most recent quarterly figures, which are presented in the latest Mersey Gateway Bridge and Silver Jubilee Bridge dashboard and cover July-September 2021, show:

  • Traffic levels in summer were back to 95% of pre-pandemic volumes – this was the busiest quarter since 2019 and the autumn is expected to see two million vehicles a month using the bridges
  • An average of just 9,000 vehicles a day use the Silver Jubilee Bridge – far less than the 80,000 vehicles a day it used to carry
  • Over 97% of journeys were paid for on time – the vast majority of people are paying for their journeys by midnight the day after they cross
  • Over 90% of payments are made through digital or automated channels – www.merseyflow.co.uk, the merseyflow quick pay app and auto top-up options are widely used by customers
  • PCNs remain below historical levels from 2018 / 2019 – though they have increased alongside the rise in journey numbers

Mike Bennett, Managing Director of the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board, said: “As we approach this anniversary it’s worth casting your mind back to remember what crossing the river in Halton was like before the new bridge was developed.”

Mike added: “Before the Mersey Gateway opened, the Silver Jubilee Bridge used to carry all of this traffic – up to 80,000 vehicles a day – through Halton, and it was regularly closed or disrupted by incidents or breakdowns. The split of traffic between the two bridges to accommodate total demand matches what was hoped for and is providing tangible benefits to local residents either side of the Silver Jubilee Bridge whose lives were affected by the traffic conditions on the approaches to it. These approach routes, which have now been removed or simplified, also formed a real barrier to investment and development. Today, we have much more reliable and resilient crossings, with significant extra capacity, it gives people and businesses extra confidence that they can live, work, invest in and travel through Halton without the disruption, delays and uncertainty that we all had to endure when planning to cross the river.”

Neil Conway, Chief Executive of merseyflow, said: “It’s really encouraging that the majority of customers are choosing to pay for their journeys using digital or automated channels, like our auto top-up system or through the merseyflow website and app. We’ve invested significantly to develop and improve these payment options and it’s good to see that customers are finding them useful to make paying for their journeys as simple and easy as possible.”

The quarterly merseyflow dashboard provides a range of in-depth statistics and graphs which show information on the number of crossings made, average daily traffic, number of PCNs issued, methods of payment, payments made on time, total revenue and what percentage of this comes from PCNs.

Silver Jubilee Bridge to Re-Open soon

February 25, 2021MerseylinkNews, Uncategorized

The Silver Jubilee Bridge is scheduled to re-open towards the end of February 2021.

When it re-opens, you will need to pay a toll/charge to cross the Silver Jubilee Bridge, just as you do when crossing the Mersey Gateway Bridge, and it will use exactly the same charging, discount and registration system.

I’m already registered with merseyflow – do I need to do anything?

No. If you are already registered with merseyflow, you don’t need to do anything differently to start using and paying to cross the Silver Jubilee Bridge.

If you qualify for and already have a discount plan and merseyflow sticker that you use for the Mersey Gateway Bridge, that same discount plan and merseyflow sticker will work for the Silver Jubilee Bridge too.

This applies to people with all types of merseyflow accounts and profiles including:

  • Halton Resident plans
  • Blue Badge holder plans
  • Pre-pay plans with discounts of 5 or 10%
  • Monthly passes
  • App profiles

I’m not registered with merseyflow – what do I need to do?

Registering with merseyflow is the easiest and cheapest way to pay for your crossing. It is the only way to get a discount on the toll charge.

However, if you’re not registered with merseyflow, you can pay the charge for crossing the Silver Jubilee Bridge in exactly the same way that you currently pay for the Mersey Gateway Bridge.

The cost per crossing depends on your vehicle type but starts at £2 for a standard sized car or a small van.

You will need to pay merseyflow by midnight the day after you cross, or you will receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

There are currently four options for drivers who aren’t registered to pay for bridge crossings:

  • By downloading and using the merseyflow app (24-hours a day, seven days a week). https://www.merseyflow.co.uk/quick-pay-app
  • Online at www.merseyflow.co.uk (24-hours a day, seven days a week).
  • By phone on 01928 878 878 – between 9am and 5.30pm Monday-Saturday and 10am-4pm Sunday and Bank Holidays. Outside of these opening hours payment can be taken 24/7 using the automated service for journeys you have already made, which you can reach by phoning 01928 878 878.
  • At one of 10,000 Payzone outlets across the UK.

There will be no toll booths on the Silver Jubilee Bridge, so you won’t be able to pay by cash or card at a toll booth as you cross it.

You will need to pay merseyflow by midnight the day after you cross, or you will receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

What happens if I don’t pay on time?

If you use either bridge and aren’t registered with merseyflow, and don’t pay on time, then you will receive a PCN.

Find out more

Halton Borough Council is overseeing the final work to be done on the Silver Jubilee Bridge before it opens.

You can read more about the essential repair work that has taken place on the Silver Jubilee Bridge over the last three years at Halton Borough Council’s website.

SILVER JUBILEE BRIDGE UPDATE

November 15, 2020MerseylinkNews, Uncategorized

Halton Borough Council can confirm that the Silver Jubilee Bridge (SJB), a Grade II Listed Structure and the seventh largest steel arch bridge in the world,  is due to reopen to traffic in February 2021 as the major refurbishment programme nears completion.

The majority of the work is now finished, but there is one remaining 12 week project to complete before the bridge can fully reopen to vehicles. Since December 2019 pedestrians and cyclists have been able to use the SJB as they cannot use the Mersey Gateway. This will continue to be the case.

The opening of the Mersey Gateway Bridge in October 2017 provided the first ever opportunity to completely close the Silver Jubilee Bridge for maintenance during its 59 year life, because for the majority of that time it has been the only crossing of the Mersey for miles around.

Listed below is the work already carried out on the SJB during its closure.

  • Refurbishment of the entire steel arch, including strengthening numerous bracing members that had extensive corrosion.
  • The replacement of a cable hanger that had shown evidence of potential early stage failure.The first time this has ever been undertaken.
  • The repainting of the entire arch, removing the old paint system, undertaking steel repairs and applying a new multi-coat system on to the bare steel.
  • The entire concrete road deck has been repaired, re-waterproofed and resurfaced.
  • Re-configuration of the deck into a single vehicle lane in either direction, together with dedicated cycle lane.This will allow the existing SJB footbridge to be solely for pedestrian use.
  • Both bridge approach structures (Widnes and Runcorn) have been refurbished and re-configured with single lane traffic and new, widened cycleway/footway verges.
  • Runcorn Approach Viaduct deck has been repaired, re-waterproofing and resurfaced and installed with new carriageway joints.
  • Widnes Approach Viaduct has been resurfaced with new carriageway joints.
  • The existing Runcorn Approach Viaduct West (connecting into the Trumpet Loop) has been demolished.

The Council has sought to open the SJB as soon as is possible, but any work undertaken on the bridge is complex due to its age, the uniqueness of the structure and the fact it is Grade II Listed. The final piece of work to do before the SJB can open to vehicles is to replace the safety system on the bridge’s edge, known as a parapet.

After demolition of Runcorn Approach Viaduct West (leading to Trumpet Loop), it was discovered that the remaining 75m section of existing parapet fixings, normally hidden from view, were corroded beyond repair. The new system must be fully certified and comply with current design standards.  Locations where the new system will be installed need to be cut out of the structure and widened to allow the new fixings to have significant strength and adhere to current standards.

As a critical health and safety matter, the SJB cannot be opened up to vehicles until it is completed. The work will take in the region of 12 weeks. This means that the SJB will not re-open to vehicles until February next year.

The Council would like to apologise for this delay, but given the health and safety issues, there is no alternative but to keep the closure to vehicles in place. To reiterate, the bridge will remain open to pedestrians and cyclists throughout this period.

MGCB Service Update

The week ending 17 May was the busiest for
traffic across the Mersey Gateway Bridge since the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown
began back in March. An extra 45,000 vehicles crossed the bridge compared to
the previous week.

New data shows that the traffic level at the
height of the lockdown was less than a third of the typical pre-lockdown number
of vehicles flowing across the bridge between Runcorn and Widnes.

However, whilst the past week has been the
busiest since 16 March, overall traffic is still at less than half of
pre-lockdown levels.

Traffic has dropped across all vehicle
classes, though the new figures shared by bridge operator merseyflow do show
how traffic patterns have varied across different vehicle types over the past
two months.

  • The quietest week was week commencing 6th
    April when just 154,000 vehicles crossed the Mersey, compared to a typical
    pre-lockdown average of almost 500,000 journeys.
  • Class 4 vehicles – HGVs and other large
    vehicles – went from around 7% of daily traffic up to 13% of daily traffic at
    the height of the lockdown, before reducing back to their current figure of 10%.
  • Halton residents, Blue Badge holders and
    registered customers have all significantly reduced travel as a result of the
    lockdown.
  • Motorcyclists have taken advantage of the
    lockdown easing and better weather, with the past week showing the highest
    number of motorcyclists crossing the bridge in a single week for several months
  • The number of PCNs issued reduced
    significantly and payment on time rates remained high at almost 98% during
    April and May.
  • A growing percentage of people paying for
    their journeys using the merseyflow quick pay app, which has now been downloaded
    over 26,000 times since it was launched last November.

A number of new features for the app are now
being tested and will be ready for roll-out within the next few weeks.

Tolls/charges remain in force on the bridge,
despite a number of urgent requests from Halton Borough Council, which have
been supported by merseyflow, to the UK Government to temporarily waive
tolls/charges during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK Government has not agreed to this
request as it has maintained its stance that continuation of tolling/charging
on crossings is a matter that has to be considered in a national context.

Neil Conway, Chief Executive of merseyflow,
said: “These figures show just how much people across the north west have
reduced their travel during the lockdown. They will also act as a guide to how
much things are slowly getting ‘back to normal’ in terms of behaviour patterns
as the lockdown gradually eases. We’ve just finished the first week of things
being more relaxed, but it is clear that less people are staying at home as
there was an extra 45,000 journeys made last week.”

Mike Bennett, Managing Director of the Mersey
Gateway Crossings Board, said: “I think these figures show how responsible
people have been over the past two months in minimising non-essential journeys.
It also shows how the changing message from Government since 11th
May has certainly had an impact on traffic activity levels here in the north
west.”

Government refuses to suspend tolls on Mersey Gateway

Earlier this week, Halton Borough Council Leader, Cllr Rob Polhill announced the steps the Council was taking to suspend tolls/charges on the Mersey Gateway to support key workers in their fight to tackle COVID-19 – he explained that to do so, would require Government approval.

It is with deep regret that Halton Borough Council must now report that Government Ministers “have considered (the Council’s) request to suspend tolling on the Mersey Gateway bridge and have decided not to approve such a move…”

Responding to this decision Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Council said: “We are deeply disappointed the Government has refused the Council’s request to suspend
tolls/charges on Mersey Gateway.”

“We believe this compromises our efforts locally to meet the challenges presented by COVID 19.”

“We also believe it penalises the very people we are relying on to keep us all safe – our NHS staff, our key workers and our volunteers, who will now be faced with ongoing payments and the requirement to pay their tolls/charge, thereby distracting them from their primary role which is to save lives.”

“We will continue to press Government to do the right thing – which is to allow the Council to suspend tolls/charges on Mersey Gateway for NHS workers, key workers and our volunteers.”

Halton Borough Council Mersey Link

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Mersey Gateway Project