The North West is experiencing a boom time for infrastructure development and investment with many projects being built or completed in recent months.
The public’s attention is sometimes diverted by the debate around high speed rail, although this is far from being “shovel ready” and many important projects are changing the landscape from Crewe to Cumbria.
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Many have not heard of the Mersey Gateway bridge across the river Mersey, but this £600M project is the largest in England, outside of London and is providing a new six-lane suspension toll bridge across the river at Halton. This replaces the iconic Runcorn Bridge, which was designed to take 9,000 cars a day, and now handles peak flows of 90,000 cars per day.
This much needed relief scheme has changed the road profiles in the immediate vicinity. Its project team has also teamed up with an educational establishment, the Catalyst Centre, to encourage children to get interested in bridge building.
The Alder Hey Children’s Hospital new development has won design awards and will care for more than 275,000 children each year and is the first NHS health park for children in the UK. With an investment of £237M, it provides 270 beds and cleverly incorporates design features suggested by children.
Work continues on the Ordsall Chord development, re-routing rail lines in Manchester. ICE Members worked through the Christmas break on the project so that key work was done at a time where minimum disruption would be incurred. There are several developments in the city centre where larger new-builds are taking shape including the Greengate site near Manchester Cathedral, and the redesign of Peter Square.
Liverpool Superport has just been completed which allows the port to accept the largest ships – an important step in encouraging shipping lines and importers to use the city rather than Felixstowe or Southampton.
This will bring more goods into the North West, avoiding clogging up roads and rail from the south.
Road projects around the region such as the Brooms Cross road and the extension to the M55 will all add to the efficiency of the region and recent flood defence work (particularly in Cumbria and Lancashire) will protect assets.
On a local basis, the project to transform the centre of Rochdale by uncovering the River Roch was a challenge in working with unknown historic assets. It has succeeded in upgrading the whole feel of the town centre by giving views to the river.
Future projects include the redevelopment of Manchester Airport, to upgrade this important travel hub and further north, new power and water supply systems are on the drawing board to enable expansion of all businesses in Cumbria, particularly of benefit to the Nuclear industry’s development plans.
High Speed 2 preparations continue, and through ICE’s Northern Powerhouse steering group, we are working with Transport for the North, to shape key infrastructure decisions. The ICE is also working with mayoral candidates and Local Enterprise Partnerships in the region to offer access to expert engineering knowledge as we continue to “shape the world” in the North West.
- Darrell Matthews is the ICE’s North West regional director