The Mersey Gateway Project

During October 2011 we consulted local communities on a number of proposed changes to the scheme which would require minor amendments to the existing planning approvals. This consultation closed on 1st November 2011. Three new planning applications outlining these modifications were submitted to Halton Borough Council in December 2011 and approved by the council in March 2012.

Prior to this consultation, our discussions with Government, local residents, councillors and others had identified ways that could improve value for money and better meet the concerns of residents along the Central Expressway.

Our estimates showed that these relatively small changes could reduce the overall cost of the scheme by at least £30 million.

The modifications covered five areas along the route of the scheme:

Click on each title to read more detail about the proposed modifications consulted on for each area or view the consultation materials we presented at the time.

1. Removal of toll plazas and Open Road Tolling

Open Road Tolling

The Mersey Gateway Project Team wishes to use an Open Road Tolling (ORT) system, which would mean using cameras and modern technology to record vehicle details for the collection of tolls for crossing both the new bridge and the Silver Jubilee Bridge.

This would mean that vehicles would still be charged for crossing the river, but there would be no toll booths or barriers along the route and traffic would be more free flowing.

Physical removal of toll plazas

Under the plans for Open Road Tolling there would be no need to build toll plazas at three different locations in Widnes, which allows us to plan a simpler and quicker route through the town.

2. Widnes Loops / Victoria Road

Without the need for toll plazas a conventional roundabout could be built to the north of the new bridge to allow traffic travelling to or from the A557 Widnes Eastern Bypass to move to or from the new bridge. This roundabout would replace the previously proposed Widnes Loops.

There could also be modifications to the bridge structures between the Garston to Timperley Rail Freight Line and Widnes Loops, including the structure that crosses over Victoria Road, which could be at a lower height than previously proposed. This could make some of the structures in this area more suited to being supported on an embankment rather than the open structures previously proposed.

3. The new bridge

The new bridge would still follow the same route across the river.

However, the proposed modifications will permit more flexibility in the design allowing specialist contractors who will build the bridge the opportunity to improve the construction process and maximise value for money.

The areas that may be modified are:

  1. the form and construction of the bridge deck,
  2. the spacing and form of the bridge supports and the geometry of the cables that support sections of the bridge deck, and
  3. the selection of materials used to construct the bridge, specifically the use of steel and concrete for the towers and bridge decks.

The council is still committed to accommodating a river crossing for light rail should a route be promoted in the future. By modifying our planning permissions, it would mean that any future light rail services that might be developed could be carried across the Silver Jubilee Bridge (SJB) instead of the new bridge.

Results from our research into this option show that it would be a feasible alternative. Using SJB for public transport including possible future light rail services would also be more compatible with the council’s sustainable transport and regeneration plans.

4. Central Expressway slip roads

We have listened to the concerns of local residents and councillors and adjusted the plans to reduce traffic levels along the slip roads at either side of Halton Brow.

The proposed changes to the plans would mean:

  • a reduction of up to 60% in projected peak time traffic levels using the slip roads at either side of Halton Brow alongside Warrington Road,
  • there is no longer any need to adjust Calvers, and
  • there would be improved access for traffic between the Central Expressway and Halton Lea to/from
    the north.
Click here to view a detailed plan showing the estimated effect of the proposed modifications on traffic levels at the Halton Brow junction.
5. Busway bridge

The existing Busway bridge over the Central Expressway, which was previously due to be replaced to accommodate the realigned Central Expressway, would be retained.

Click here to view a detailed plan showing how the proposed modifications around the area of the busway bridge.

You can read more about the proposed possible modifications to the project plans in our explanatory leaflet or view the exhibition panels which will be used at the public exhibitions. High resolution versions of the panels are available for download below.

It has come to our attention that the exhibition panel (panel 9) relating to the Busway Bridge area that was on display at the recent public exhibitions appeared to show the Busway Bridge going underneath the Central Expressway. Whilst the accompanying text made it clear that the modified proposal is to leave the Busway Bridge in its current position, i.e. going above the Central Expressway, we acknowledge that the original drawing may have caused some confusion. We have produced a new drawing which clarifies the proposal.

Exhibition panels – High Resolution

Also available to download are high resolution versions of the area plans that were on display at the public exhibitions. These show how the new modified proposals being consulted on differ from the already approved plans, which were presented at the public inquiry in 2009, in different areas along the route.

Area plans – High Resolution

You can also view our short video (below) which explains some of the proposed modifications.

Exhibitions to show possible modifications

We held two exhibitions in early October in the areas where the proposed changes to the plans would take place. There was one exhibition in Runcorn and one in Widnes. They took place at:

Runcorn Town Hall Chambers
Tuesday 18th October 2011
12.00pm to 7.00pm

Stobart Stadium, Widnes, Box 8
Wednesday 19th October 2011
12.00pm to 7.00pm

Next steps

Three planning applications were submitted to Halton Borough Council on 12 December 2011.

The proposals were considered by Halton Borough Council, and the applications were approved by the council’s Development Control Committee on 12th March 2012.

If you would like to ask more questions abut any aspect of this consultation please contact us.

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