Mersey Gateway reaches new heights

Richard Furlong - City Surveys Group

Home » Mersey Gateway reaches new heights

Published: 11th October 2016

This Article was Written by: Richard Furlong - City Surveys Group

  


The Mersey Gateway project passed two important landmarks this week – firstly with the erection of the bridge’s tallest pylon and, secondly, as Halton Borough Council meet to agree a raft of bylaws that will come into force when the bridge opens to traffic next autumn.

Both landmarks are considered historic moments for the Mersey Gateway, construction of which commenced in the spring of 2014. It is currently the largest new build construction project ongoing in the North West and is estimated to be costing in the region of £300 million.

The project, which sees the introduction of a massive six lane bridge between Runcorn and Widnes, will take the strain off the aged but stately Silver Jubilee Bridge. When the Gateway opens both old and new bridges will become toll routes utilising ‘smart’ tolling systems to keep traffic moving, with a standard one-way journey costing drivers £2 and monthly passes available for regular commuters.    

This week the project reached new heights with the raising of the South Pylon. South Pylon is the tallest of the three pylons that will stabilise the main structure of the bridge while giving it a distinctive look.

South Pylon, at 125 metres high, marks the highest point of the Mersey Gateway crossing. North Pylon comes in close behind at 110 metres while the third, Central, reaches just 80 metres. Both are expected to be raised in the next few weeks.  

The pylons are being erected with specially-developed automated climbing equipment. Completing 5 metre sections at a time, the unit then moves up the pylon to make a start on the next section. South Pylon was built in 30 sections; North and Central will be constructed in 27 and 21 sections respectively.

Gareth Stuart, Merseylink Project Director, said: “Hitting the highest point on the project is a significant milestone.  We’ll be holding a special site celebration to thank all of the teams involved.”

The next phase of construction work, installing the steel stay cables to connect the pylons to the bridge deck, will begin in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile Halton Council are due to meet shortly to decide the by-laws that will be enforced on the new 1,000 metre long river crossing.

Councillors are proposing a 20mph minimum speed limit, prohibiting any vehicle with a top speed of less than this from crossing; this includes cyclists, quad bikes and – a sight not seen much around Liverpool these days – horse-drawn carriages. Details of the bridge’s maximum speed limit have yet to be confirmed.

Drivers using the Gateway may also be banned from using ‘threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour’ (presumably at other drivers) and from displaying signs that might ‘cause annoyance or offence.’

Entrepreneurial bridge-crossers may have to think twice too. A by-law prohibiting the sale of items on the bridge has made the shortlist. Naturally, ‘climbing on, damaging or removing parts of the bridge’ will also be deemed unacceptable.

If you’re wondering how Halton Council will police the bridge, the short list names representatives of Halton Council, bridge operators and community bobbies as those able to enforce the by-laws.

The list also contains guidance on more practical issues, including permissible sizes and weights of vehicles. Vehicles exceeding maximum dimensions and weights will be required to apply for a crossing permit up to six days in advance.

A by-law that will undoubtedly get the backing of most commuters is the banning of tailgating on the bridge. This by-law states ‘the driver of a vehicle in the bridge area shall maintain a safe and prudent distance between his own vehicle and the one immediately in front.’


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