Halton’s iconic new Mersey Gateway Bridge will open to traffic just after midnight on the morning of Saturday 14th October.
The plan is, weather depending, to have the bridge lit up with a spectacular light show and fireworks display on Friday evening, a few hours before it opens to traffic.
The announcement confirms the project will open on time and under budget after Halton Borough Council and the successful bidder, Merseylink, worked together to save around £250million on the project costs during the procurement process.
The overnight opening of the project road is the culmination of more than three-and-a-half years of construction work across Halton, with the new bridge being the iconic centrepiece of the huge project.
The Mersey Gateway Project covers over nine kilometres of road improvements across Halton, including the bridge and a series of major new junctions running through Runcorn and Widnes.
Its opening will mean quicker, easier and more reliable journeys across the Mersey, and the wider north-west region.
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.
- As the largest infrastructure project in England outside of London, the scale of Mersey Gateway is phenomenal. It includes or uses:
- a 2.2km-long elevated route including a 1,000-metre long stay cable bridge
- 127,415m3 of concrete
- 12 new bridges and 7 new or upgraded junctions across a 9.2-kilometre route through Runcorn and Widnes
- 810 miles of cables connecting the three pylons to the bridge deck
- the recovery and re-use of 1,423,2250 tonnes of previously contaminated materials
Cllr. Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Borough Council, said:
“We’ve watched the new Mersey Gateway Bridge being built up out of the river, we all know people who have contributed to the project in some way, and now it is time for it to open. The fireworks and light show will be a spectacular opening, and I’d encourage everyone to come down to see it this Friday night.
“This project has already brought millions of pounds to our regional economy, created hundreds of job opportunities, engaged with thousands of local schoolchildren and transformed our road network, but that is just the start.”
“This gives us an incredible infrastructure and base from which we can develop a hugely exciting and vibrant future for Halton. The Mersey Gateway Plus Regeneration Strategy outlines how we will continue to ensure Halton and the north west continue to create jobs and grow our economy.”
Hugh O’Connor, General Manager at Merseylink, said: “Over the past three-and-a-half years the Merseylink team has transformed the Halton Borough landscape, designing and constructing the magnificent cable stay bridge, over nine kilometres of new roads, seven junctions and 12 new bridges and associated highway signal and control systems.
“While the Mersey Gateway Bridge itself has always been our centrepiece, this project is about much more than just a bridge and the complexity and scale of the engineering challenge has reflected that.
“We’re opening on time and on budget and I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the staff, workers and volunteers who have worked so hard to make that happen and also say a big thank you to Halton residents and commuters for their interest, support and patience over the past three and a half years.
“We appreciate that there will be great excitement at the prospect of being able to drive over the new bridge, however we must urge all drivers to please pay close attention to the new road signage, observe the speed limits, and enjoy the new road whilst the passengers take in the great vistas.
“Remember, the driver must be particularly cautious when driving over the bridge and new road layout for the first time.”
The project has been delivered by an international team of construction and engineering specialists from round the world.
Its equity partners are UK based BBGI, FCC Construcción from Spain and Macquarie Capital Group Limited from Australia. The construction joint venture is made up of Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Limited (UK), Samsung C&T Corporation (South Korea) and FCC Construcción S.A (Spain).
What happens when the new bridge opens?
Halton Borough Council, the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board and Merseylink are organising a special fireworks display to celebrate the opening, weather permitting.
The public viewing location are Spike Island in Widnes and Mersey Road in Runcorn.
8:30pm Light show begins
8:45pm Spectacular fireworks display
9:05pm Event ends – limited edition Mersey Gateway merchandise will be sold at both locations with all profits going to the Mayor’s charities.
Just before the new bridge opens just after midnight, on the morning of Saturday 14th October, the Silver Jubilee Bridge, which has been open since July 1961, will close for in the region of 12 months for refurbishments.
The new and improved link roads connecting the new bridge to the M56 and the main route towards Liverpool and the M62 will also open at the same time.
Once the bridge opens, tolls will be enforced immediately. Dedicated cameras and sensors will read vehicle number plates and special merseyflow stickers to charge drivers.
Anyone who doesn’t pay by 11:59pm the day after they cross will receive a penalty charge notice.
Anyone who wants to register for discounts but has not yet done so is being urged to register at www.merseyflow.co.uk as soon as possible to ensure they have their special sticker in time for the opening.