Central Expressway connection to Southern Expressway route re-opens
The Mersey Gateway Project team has announced that a connection to the Southern Expressway route in Runcorn has re-opened to traffic today (Friday 12 August 2016).
As a result of the road re-opening, southbound traffic using the Central Expressway no longer has to divert around local roads past Runcorn Shopping Centre.
Motorists will initially need to leave and re-join the Central Expressway at the Halton Lea junction until autumn 2016 due to ongoing works on the carriageway underneath the junction. This short diversion route is signposted with a hollow square symbol.
The Central Expressway has been closed in both directions at the Lodge Lane junction since 30 November 2015 to allow Merseylink’s construction teams to conduct major works including:
- removing the ‘loop’ slip road at Lodge Lane Interchange that previously connected Weston Link and the Southern Expressway
- raising the level of the Central Expressway by an average of a metre in height and re-routing utility cables underneath the road
- creating distributor lanes to take traffic safely between the Central Expressway and local routes
- building a new footbridge over the realigned Central Expressway at Halton Lodge and removing the original footbridge
- refurbishing and repairing the Halton South footbridge.
These works form part of an extensive upgrade that is underway to build a new Lodge Lane Interchange to link the Central Expressway with Weston Link and the Southern Expressway.
The modifications will alter the main priority traffic route through Runcorn so that it runs from the M56 Junction 12 to the Mersey Gateway bridge via the Central Expressway.
Construction teams have been busy getting the southbound carriageway of the Central Expressway ready to re-open. This involved the biggest asphalt laying operation the project has undertaken to date with 1,602 tonnes of tarmac laid in a single day covering an area of over 4,000 square metres.
Jim Rice, Merseylink’s Senior Operations Manager Landside, said: “This momentous task has required significant effort from our teams and everyone has worked extremely hard. In total we’ve laid over 10,200 tonnes of tarmac on the road – the equivalent of about 510 truckloads – that’s enough to cover three full size football pitches.”
Hugh O’Connor, General Manager of Merseylink, said: “This junction is one of the most significant parts of the road reconfigurations taking place across the entire project. The scale, nature and complexity of the work involved cannot be underestimated.
“When it’s finished, there will be a new free-flowing north to south route that links the new bridge and the Central Expressway with Weston Link and on to the M56 Junction 12, benefitting those who live and work in the area.
He added: “Once again I’d like to thank local residents and other road users for their patience while we complete these essential works. We hope this re-opening of the connection to the Southern Expressway improves their journeys whilst we get on with the remaining works.”
Upgrading and re-modelling the road infrastructure is a key part of the Mersey Gateway Project with work underway right across Halton to develop a new and improved 7km link road to connect the new bridge to the national motorway network.
An extensive landscaping scheme will take place once the road infrastructure works have been completed, which will involve planting native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and species-rich grasses.
A number of diversions will remain in place while work at the Lodge Lane junction continues.