The Mersey Gateway Project is an under construction toll bridge project across Mersey River to connect Widnes and Runcorn in Cheshire, UK. Including several road improvements in the borough, the project is being carried out by Halton Borough Council and the Mersey Crossing Group. Work on the Mersey Gateway toll bridge commenced in early 2014. It is scheduled for public opening in late 2017.

As part of the project, the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge (SJB) will be modified to improve facilities for public transport, cycling and walking across Mersey River.

The pre-application consultation for the Mersey Gateway was done between June and September 2007. The planning application for the project was submitted in March 2008. Halton Borough Council started consultation on the planning application in the same year.

Tenders were issued for the construction and operation of the Mersey Gateway following the outcome of a public inquiry in 2010. Contracts for the construction and maintenance of the project were awarded in 2011. The project will create 470 jobs during the construction phase and approximately 4,640 permanent new jobs through the entire Mersey Gateway operation, new and inward investments, and regeneration activities.

Mersey Gateway project details

The £600m Mersey Gateway project will relieve road traffic congestions on the existing SJB, which serves approximately 80,000 vehicles every weekday. Built in 1961, the bridge is the only road link that connects Runcorn and Widnes within the borough.

"The Mersey Gateway project will create around 1,600 permanent jobs in the region."

The new Mersey Gateway Bridge will be integrated with the existing principal road network and roads will be improved to relieve the SJB and transfer around 80% of the traffic onto the new bridge.

The Mersey Gateway is expected to provide significant benefits such as shorter journey times, reliability, regional and local regeneration of Runcorn, Widnes and surrounding areas, as well as generate an estimated £61.9m a year in gross value added by 2030 to boost the regional economy.

The project will provide a new strategic transportation link to the North Cheshire, Liverpool city region and the north-west, as well as the rest of the country. It will also enhance the infrastructure investments and help the regeneration of Halton and the north-west regions. The project will also provide an opportunity for the long-term regeneration programme covering 20km² across five areas of the borough.

Mersey Gateway project details

The Mersey Gateway project will involve the construction of a new toll bridge and the rehabilitation of an approximately 10km-long road network from the North Cheshire motorway (M56) in the south of Runcorn to Speke Road in Widnes. It will also include improvements and changes in the existing Halton road network to integrate the project into the existing highway network.

The proposals include the closure of two access roads connecting the Widnes regional network and the SJB, to enable the flow of traffic onto the new bridge. The two access roads to be closed are the A557 Widnes Eastern Bypass and the SJB link; and the A533 Queensway that connects Speke Roundabout Interchange (A562) and the SJB.

"The Mersey Gateway project will provide a new strategic transportation link to the North Cheshire, Liverpool city region."

The project will integrate public transport, cycle and pedestrian-connecting links across Halton. It will also establish tolling facilities and develop associated infrastructure, including project landscaping.

The new bridge will be located around 1.25 miles east of the existing SJB. It will connect the Central Expressway in Runcorn and the Eastern Bypass in Widnes. The bridge route will continue until Speke Road, heading towards Liverpool.

The SJB will be modernised to a two-lane carriageway and will have new, safer pedestrian and cyclist links. It will be mainly used for local and public transportation. The SJB will, thereby, serve local and regional economic development. Measures will be taken to considerably reduce air pollution and improve local air quality.

Mersey Gateway bridge design and structure

The Mersey Gateway Bridge will be a cable-stayed bridge with three towers. It will be similar in design to the Second Severn Crossing Bridge and a recognisable structure across the northwest. The 2.3km bridge will have three lanes with a dual carriageway across the river.

The bridge will have two 300m-long outer spans supported by three piers in the river. The cable-stayed element of the bridge will be 1km-long across the estuary. The height of the outer structure towers at the highest point will be 135m above the river bed. The foundations of the bridge will be 30m-deep below the river bed.

The design is expected to deliver maximum benefits for the local community and a minimum impact on the surrounding environment and the estuary. The tolled crossing will have a speed limit of 60mph.

Mersey Gateway bridge congestion charges

The existing SJB and the new bridge will be tolled when work on the Mersey Gateway project is complete. The tolling of the SJB is proposed to reduce traffic congestion by about 80%. Tolling will also reduce traffic jams due to the expanded capacity of the new bridge.

Project financing

"The tolling of the SJB is proposed to reduce traffic congestion by about 80%."

The cost of the Mersey Gateway project is estimated to be £600m. The project was granted a £102.5m loan by Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) in November 2015.

HM Treasury offers a 29-year £257m Mersey Gateway bond as part of the UK Guarantee scheme. The scheme will provide the financial guarantee of the principal and interest.

Contractors involved

CH2M HILL is responsible for providing technical and contractual advisory services to the project. L&R Roadlines received a contract to offer road-marking solutions for the project. The scope of the project includes road markings, cats-eyes, anti-skid treatments and additional works.

Lanes Group secured a contract to provide drainage survey and maintenance services to the project in November 2015. The contract includes the delivery of CCTV drainage surveys, drainage cleaning services and new drainage infrastructure.

The Merseylink consortium secured a contract to design, build, finance and operate the bridge for a period of 30 years. The consortium members include Kier Infrastructure, Samsung C&T and FCC Construcción.

CLD Fencing is responsible for providing approximately 5km of 2.1m-high eclipse mesh fencing to the project.