Work starts on Mersey Gateway’s main bridge deck as project enters third year of construction
Construction of the new Mersey Gateway crossing is in full swing as the project enters its third year – and the latest figures show a direct contribution of tens of millions of pounds to the regional economy.
Work has started on the main deck of the new six-lane toll bridge that will link the towns of Runcorn and Widnes, and teams will begin to connect the steel support cables to the deck and upper pylons this summer.
‘Trinity’, the project’s movable scaffolding system (MSS), has cast the first 250m of the north approach viaduct, and a new MSS is on its way to Halton to build the south approach viaduct.
View from ‘Trinity’ (MSS) across the north approach viaduct
The local road network is undergoing significant transformation with major junction upgrades taking place right across the borough, including the redesigned M56 Junction 12 roundabout, which is due for completion in June.
Newly released figures for the first two years of work on the Mersey Gateway Project show a direct contribution to the north west regional economy of some £129million.
The figures account for contracts placed by the Merseylink Construction Joint Venture (CJV) with 351 different suppliers and sub-contractors based within a 30-mile radius of the site in Halton since work began in May 2014.
Aerial view of redesigned roundabout at M56 junction 12
One north west supplier heavily involved with the project is Manchester-based construction firm PP O’Connor, which constructed the two haul roads across the saltmarsh on either side of the River Mersey to provide workers with safe access to the estuary to build the new bridge.
The company is also undertaking major demolition works across Halton, including the recent demolition of two road bridges at Ditton in Widnes, and is one of the main suppliers of aggregate materials (stone) for the project.
PP O’Connor Managing Director, Peter O’Connor, said: “We are delighted to have been working with Merseylink on this prestigious project over the past two years to complete both the haul road construction and major demolition works, and we are very proud that the two intense 48 hour shifts on Ditton bridges were completed ahead of schedule.”
He added: “I am hugely proud of the whole team at PP O’Connor for delivering these major works without incident or accident. The health and safety of our team is of paramount importance to PP O’Connor and it is testament to the commitment of our directly employed team that we are able to work so effectively and efficiently, even on the most challenging of sites.”
Aerial of bridge construction in the Mersey estuary
Another north west supplier to be awarded a contract with the project is Chester-based drainage specialist, Lanes Group. The company is providing a range of services, including CCTV drainage surveys, drainage cleaning and unblocking, and remedial work on existing and new drainage infrastructure.
Chester Area Development Manager Ian Clapham said: “Lanes has a strong presence in the north west with operational centres in Preston and Eccles, as well as Chester, and we’re delighted to be supporting such an important project for the whole region.
“Winning the contract has contributed to us investing in a new £350,000 advanced recycler jet vac tanker, and is helping us develop our skills base and highways service offer. This, in turn, strongly underpins our growth strategy which aims to create more jobs in the Lanes NW operation over the next 3-5 years.”
Hugh O’Connor, General Manager of Merseylink, said: “Two years ago we set out to build an iconic structure, an amazing new bridge which will help to transform and improve the road network across Halton. We’re well on the way to doing that and opening on time in autumn 2017.
He added: “As a global consortium we have brought expertise from across the world to deliver this project and it has always been important to us to maximise the regional benefits, which is why I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to place work valued at £129million within the north west economy.”
View of bridge construction in Mersey estuary from Runcorn (photo credit David Hunter)
Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Borough Council, said: “The journey from the project’s initial planning stages to now, as we head into the third year of construction, is truly remarkable. Not only is the physical landscape of our borough changing rapidly, the wider impact, including investment into the local and regional economy, is a testament to the strategic importance of the scheme. I am delighted that the project is enabling such significant growth and prosperity.”