Funding agreement draws near for Mersey Gateway
Mersey Gateway Project bosses have said they are confident of reaching agreement with Government over the final funding package for the scheme within the next few months.
At the time of the public inquiry into the project, it was hoped that the previous Government would have approved the project funding prior to the 2010 General Election, but this didn’t happen.
As a result of that, and the subsequent Spending Review undertaken by the Coalition Government, there has been an inevitable delay of around a year in the project timetable.
We are close to settling how Government will fund the project and expect to be in a position to commence advance works late next year, with the new bridge opening in 2016.
In the meantime, work has already begun on the detailed procurement process to appoint a private sector partner to work with Halton Borough Council to design, build, finance and operate the bridge over an expected 30- year period. A final decision on the appointment of the chosen partner is expected in the summer of 2012.
Last month the team met with 130 representatives from potential main contractors at a special Industry Day at the Stobart Stadium as part of its market consultation programme.
Steve Nicholson, Mersey Gateway Project Director, said: “Discussions with Government are going well and we are hopeful that a final agreement will be reached before the summer.”
Transport Secretary Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP said in a written statement to Parliament last month that he was “carefully considering” a funding proposal from Halton Borough Council for Mersey Gateway and was hoping to announce final funding arrangements “as soon as possible.”
Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Borough Council, said: “There has been a delay to the project becoming a reality because of the way the funding debate has taken shape over the last year, but I want to reassure everyone that we are working closely with the Government and remain committed to delivering the best possible deal for the public purse and the residents, businesses and commuters that cross the Mersey in Halton.”