The Merseylink Consortium is starting work by building access roads across the sensitive saltmarsh environments on both sides of the river.
They are doing this so construction teams can reach and work in the estuary to build the new six-lane toll bridge over the River Mersey between Widnes and Runcorn.
Halton Borough Council leader Rob Polhill joined the Merseylink Consortium team on Wigg Island in Runcorn today (7 May) for a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of the work.
Manchester-based construction firm PP O’Connor is undertaking the construction work on the access road across the saltmarshes, which will take around 16 weeks to complete. The firm won the contract against competition from across the UK through a competitive tendering process run by Merseylink.
This is the first of a series of construction and other contracts that Merseylink will be appointing in the coming weeks.
The next few months will also see work starting on:
- Setting up the accommodation compounds on both sides of the river
- Final demolition work around Ditton, Astmoor, Catalyst Trade Park, Victoria Road and Hutchinson Street
- Construction of three pylon cofferdams in the River Mersey from floating barges
- A temporary trestle bridge built from each side of the river to take vehicles to the pylons
- Upgrading the road network in Runcorn starting at the Bridgewater Interchange and M56 roundabout.
Work will continue through to an anticipated bridge opening date of autumn 2017.
Hugh O’Connor, general manager for Merseylink Consortium, said: “Merseylink has spent the past three years working on the plans for this project and today is a hugely significant day for us. Our focus now is on delivering the bridge and associated road infrastructure. We will be working with all of the interested parties to keep them informed of our proposed works.”
Stephen Cardwell, Project Director for the Merseylink Construction joint venture, added: “Mersey Gateway is an exciting and challenging construction project. The tidal flows in the estuary, the scale of the new bridge, which is the biggest under development in England at the moment, and the extent of the work we need to do to create new access routes on both sides of the river all make this a really fascinating job.”
Last month Halton Borough Council and the Merseylink consortium announced procurement savings of £250 million on the Mersey Gateway Project.
The existing Silver Jubilee Bridge will also be tolled as part of the project, which will bring major estimated economic, transport and social benefits to the region, including:
· 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
· Journey times up to 10 minutes quicker in peak periods, and
· An improvement in journey time reliability.