Ground investigation works get underway
All eyes will be on the banks of the Mersey this spring as environmental studies take place on and around the river as part of the Mersey Gateway project.
A number of drilling rigs will be seen along the route of the Mersey Gateway through Runcorn and Widnes over the next two months as the latest phase of ground investigation works gets underway.
Over 100 sampling holes will be drilled to allow the project team to understand and take account of the characteristics of the soil and rock and levels of contamination beneath the route, which runs from the A562 Speke Road in the north to link with the M56 in the south.
Specialist contractor Soil Mechanics has been appointed to undertake the work, which started this week, and will take around six weeks to complete.
Any work that will require lane closures on the major road network has been scheduled at night to minimise disruption to motorists, whilst a number of slip lanes and hard shoulders around the borough will be closed during the day over the next six weeks. Traffic will also be slowed periodically to allow the drilling rigs access to the 123 individual sites.
The roads in Widnes where lanes will be closed for night time working (between 7.30pm and 6am) after Easter are:
- A533 Queensway to A562 Speke Road (northbound)
- A562 leading to Ashley Way (southbound)
- Two slip roads will be closed during the daytime (between 9.30am and 4pm)
- Junction of the A5126 and A533 (Central and Southern Expressways)
- Junction of the Bridgewater Expressway and Central Expressway
Steve Nicholson, Mersey Gateway Project Director, said: “The Mersey Gateway is the biggest major infrastructure project currently being proposed anywhere in the north of England, and will bring with it substantial long-term benefits for Halton and the wider north west region. However, it is vital that we make sure we understand every impact of the project, and this research is an important part of helping us to do that.”
Steve Jones, Project Manager with lead consultants Gifford, said: “We are using highly sophisticated monitoring mechanisms to allow us to study the exact make up of the ground beneath the Mersey Gateway route. The results will allow us to assess the potential impact of the bridge on groundwater levels and understand the best way to reuse or dispose of the materials we will eventually remove from the site.”
The Mersey Gateway is a £390 million project to build a new crossing over the River Mersey. It will ease the significant congestion currently experienced by users of the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge and provide a major strategic new transport route linking the Liverpool city-region and the north west to the rest of the country.
The new crossing will bring a wide range of benefits to the area including:
- hundreds of new jobs and millions of pounds worth of new investment
- reduced journey times and improved journey reliability for local people, commuters and businesses
- the continued transformation of the towns of Widnes and Runcorn as part of a widespread regeneration programme.
The government approved funding for Mersey Gateway in March 2006. The Mersey Gateway team is now working up detailed proposals to ensure that the project brings the maximum possible benefits to Halton and the north west and ensure that any environmental impacts are minimised.