14 March 2012
Halton Borough Council has approved a series of modifications to the design of the Mersey Gateway project, including the removal of provision for a possible light rail system.
The Council’s Development Control Committee unanimously approved the changes, which have been designed to reduce the impact of the scheme on residents, save US$45 million and provide design flexibility along the route of the new six-lane toll bridge over the Mersey in north west England.
Leader of Halton Borough Council councillor Rob Polhill said: “These modifications are not major changes, but they do improve the scheme and reduce the overall cost by around £30 million [US$45 million]. They will also allow us to work closely with the shortlisted bidders to allow them to innovate and deliver the best possible project that works for local residents, commuters, taxpayers and the public purse.”
The modifications include changes to the road layouts on both sides of the river and remove the need for large toll plazas in Widnes. The approvals also cover possible design modifications for the new bridge. The route of the new crossing is not being changed but the project team would like to increase the design flexibility available to the project company, which will be responsible for confirming the design of the new bridge. This will allow proposed construction methods to be taken into account.
The design modifications to the main bridge under consideration would not accommodate a future light rail scheme and if this were adopted the council would use the Silver Jubilee Bridge.
The existing planning permissions still apply. This means that, should the council wish to, it can still build the new bridge to the original plans that were considered at a public inquiry in 2009.