Plans to cut the cost of the £600M Mersey Gateway Bridge by £30M have been approved by Halton Borough Council.
Project bosses will save the cash by dropping the requirement for a double-deck, as well as by introducing open road tolling instead of constructing toll plazas.
Under original plans, the three-span cable-stayed bridge deck consisted of a three-lane highway on top, with the lower-deck left empty to allow a light rail transit (LRT) to be developed at some point in the future. Any future LRT scheme will now have to run over the existing Silver Jubilee bridge.
The council’s development control committee unanimously approved the changes after reviewing responses to the Mersey Gateway project team’s consultation on the plans last autumn. These showed broad support for the modifications, with 71% of respondents who commented feeling that the alternative designs for the new bridge and along the route that could improve value for money had a positive or neutral impact.
The changes give the consortiums tendering to design, build, finance and operate the bridge more flexibility in their approach to designing and building the bridge. Three consortiums have been shortlisted.
Detailed changes approved relating to the new bridge:
The areas relating to the new bridge that may be modified are:
- the form and construction of the bridge deck
- the spacing and form of the bridge supports and the geometry of the cables that support sections of the bridge deck
- the selection of materials used to construct the bridge, specifically the use of steel and concrete for the towers and bridge decks
It is anticipated that construction work will start towards the end of 2013, and that the new bridge will take around three years to complete. As well as the income from tolls, the Department for Transport will provide £86M in capital grant towards land and remediation and up to £14.55M per year in long-term revenue support for 26.5 years from opening to fund the scheme.