Widnes and Runcorn schoolchildren bridge the Mersey to celebrate Gateway milestone
Four lucky pupils from two local schools were the centre of attention on the River Mersey today (Friday 5 June 2015) as part of a unique event at the middle of a 1,000m long temporary bridge.
They were guests of honour at a special ceremony for the Mersey Gateway Project to mark the completion of the trestle bridge.
Aidan Shaw and Abbie Strain, both age 10, from Pewithall Primary School in Runcorn, and Benyapha Choeisungnoen (age 10) and Tyler Moisey (age 9), from Widnes Academy in West Bank, were the stars of the show at the special Merseylink event.
Abbie Strain from Pewithall Primary School in Runcorn, said: “It’s amazing to be out here in the middle of the River Mersey – it’s so big. The view you get is really impressive and I’m really pleased to help open this temporary bridge. I can’t wait to see how the big new bridge looks while they are building it”
Tyler Moisey from Widnes Academy West Bank, said: “Walking along the bridge felt very strange because we were right out in the middle of the river. We’re learning a lot about the Mersey Gateway Project at school and it’s great to get involved.”
The pupils and their teachers travelled up the trestle from each side of the river (Spike Island on the north side and Wigg Island on the south side) to meet in the middle, where they shook hands to symbolise the new bridge joining the two towns together.
The children also took some amazing selfies, swapped school ‘bears’ and made special hand imprints from clay to represent the building of the bridge. These imprints will be framed and given to the pupils and schools as a lasting memento of the occasion.
The temporary trestle bridge is the first bridge to be built over the River Mersey in Halton since 1961, when the Silver Jubilee Bridge was opened.
It will act as an access platform for construction teams to work from when building the new river crossing. Built purely for construction teams and machinery, the trestle is not open to the public.
Hugh O’Connor, general manager of Merseylink, said: “This is an important milestone for the project. Completion of the trestle has enabled us to start to build the central cofferdam and excavate foundations for the bridge pylons. The new bridge will connect Runcorn and Widnes and their respective communities so we were very pleased to get local schoolchildren involved.
Cllr Rob Polhill, chair of the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board, and Leader of Halton Borough Council, said: “It’s not every day that you get to shake hands and take a ‘sefie’ in the middle of the River Mersey. This is a historic time for Halton and I’m sure that Aidan, Abbie, Benyapha and Tyler will remember it forever. We can now look forward to watching the construction of our new bridge as it progresses over the coming months.”
The economic, transport and social benefits the project will bring to the region include:
- 470 permanent full-time equivalent jobs on site during construction
- 4,640 permanent direct and indirect jobs
- £61.9 million a year in Gross Value Added from the new jobs by 2030.
When it opens in 2017, both the new bridge and the Silver Jubilee Bridge will be tolled, but they will be free to all Halton residents.