Merseylink outlines plans for access roads to build the Mersey Gateway Bridge
Construction consortium Merseylink has outlined the details of its plans for the access roads it intends to build across the saltmarsh on either side of the River Mersey in Halton.
The two ‘haul roads’ will be the first major piece of construction work and will be crucial in allowing workers, vehicles and equipment to access the main construction works in the estuary.
The plans are now awaiting formal approval from Halton Borough Council, with work expected to start during April.
Jim Rice, Senior Construction Manager with the Merseylink consortium, said: “The plans have now been submitted to Halton Borough Council and we’re awaiting feedback from consultees, so we’re looking forward to getting started. Although these will be temporary access roads they will be in place for around three and a half years.”
He added: ”The most challenging aspect of this element of the haul road work is the section across the St Helens Canal and the Widnes Warth Saltmarsh. We’ve worked closely with the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Marine Management Organisation, as well as local sailing clubs and Halton Borough Council to look at every aspect of the plans.”
Normal construction working hours on the haul road work will be between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday and 7am to 1pm on a Saturday.
Both roads will take around 16-18 weeks to construct. Merseylink envisages there will be an average of 75 loads of stone delivered per day (150 vehicle movements), or less than seven loads per hour, on each side of the river.
These works will mean a number of temporary footpath, road and cycle route closures on routes on both sides of the river and temporary fencing will be installed to prevent accidental pedestrian access.
Local signage will be put in place across the site to inform walkers, cyclists and drivers about any diversions and these will be updated on a regular basis, however closures and diversions will include:
- The Trans Pennine Trail and existing local footpaths (and the cycle route on the tow path) from Queensway and Alforde Street subway that lead to St Helens Canal.
- The Trans Pennine Trail will be closed for a minimum of six months, following discussions that have already been held with Trans Pennine Trail and Halton Borough Council officers about the diversion routes in the area.
- A number of local footpaths on Wigg Island
The Environment Agency has approved plans to carry out a fish rescue in the affected part of the St Helens Canal, which will then be dammed at each side of the haul road and infilled with a clay bunding to allow access across it to the saltmarsh.
A special bird nesting deterrent system, which has been agreed with Natural England and the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust, has already been put in place to minimise the impact of the construction on breeding birds.
The haul roads will be removed once the new bridge is opened and all temporary works will be removed. The saltmarsh and adjoining land on both sides of the river will be restored as part of a final landscaping scheme.