New road layout will mean quicker, easier and more reliable journeys
When Halton’s iconic new Mersey Gateway Bridge opens to the public the new-look road system stretching across Widnes and Runcorn will open at the same time.
The project is about much more than just a bridge, and the whole route, which covers nine kilometres of road improvements and new junctions connecting the M56 Junction 12 in Runcorn to the Widnes Eastern Bypass and Speke Road heading towards Liverpool, is shown in a series of photographs produced by Merseylink.
Drivers should pay extra attention to the road signs when the new route opens fully as there are some changes in priorities and junction layouts.
There are already numerous signs in place advising drivers they are approaching a toll route and highlighting the last opportunities to leave the route before needing to pay a toll.
As soon as it opens the new bridge will be tolled, while the Silver Jubilee Bridge will be immediately closed to traffic for refurbishment.
Hugh O’Connor, General Manager of Merseylink, said: “Many of the new junctions along the route like Lodge Lane, Widnes Loops and Bridgewater are major engineering projects in themselves. Delivering all of these together across a 9 kilometre route is a huge achievement and we’re busy putting the final touches to the route so everything is ready to open at the same time.”
Cllr. Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Borough Council, said: “This opening will be the result of three and a half years of hard work and extensive planning – but we really would urge everyone to plan their journeys and take extra care on the new-look road system for the first few days while all drivers get used to the new routes.”
What to expect when the new route opens
The photographs below show how the new-look junctions will work with the free-flow toll system to mean quicker, easier and more reliable journeys across the river and around Halton.
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Ditton Junction, Widnes, looking east
The exit slip at Ditton Junction will be the last opportunity for traffic travelling along Speke Road to leave the route and avoid paying tolls. The approaches to the Silver Jubilee Bridge will be closed for around 12 months once the new bridge is open, although Desoto Road will still provide access to 3MG.
Widnes Loops roundabout, Widnes, looking east
Local traffic will be able to access and leave West Bank via Ashley Way and Victoria Road. There will be no access to West Bank from the Widnes Loops roundabout.
Bridgewater Junction, Runcorn, looking north
The new Bridgewater Junction will be fully operational with traffic lights in place. This junction will be the last opportunity for traffic travelling down the Central Expressway to leave the route and avoid paying tolls.
Central Expressway, Runcorn, looking north west
Extensive signage will be in place to direct people along the new and improved routes to and from the Central Expressway to destinations like Runcorn Shopping City and Halton Hospital.
Lodge Lane Junction, Runcorn, looking north east
Drivers travelling north and looking to head to Runcorn Shopping City need to keep left as they approach Lodge Lane Junction.
Drivers heading south along the Central Expressway will have a choice of whether to head towards the Weston Point Expressway or the Southern Expressway, but the main route will take them to Weston Point Expressway.
Weston Point Junction, Runcorn, looking east
Significant improvements and changes have been made to the Weston Point Junction which will make it much easier for drivers to travel between the Central Expressway and J12 of the M56.
M56 Junction12, Runcorn, looking north
All lanes on the new-look roundabout to the north of the M56 and the Weston Point Expressway will be fully open once the bridge opens.
Silver Jubilee Bridge approaches in Runcorn, looking north east
The Silver Jubilee Bridge will be closed for around 12 months at the same time as the new bridge opens. Approach roads to it will also be closed, although Desoto Road will still provide access to 3MG.