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The Gallery | Mersey Gateway latest as design chief describes challenges

A key figure in the design of the £600M Mersey Gateway has spoken about the challenges of the project - as a ceremony was held to mark completion of a temporary bridge alongside it.

Construction of the 2.25km-long Mersey Gateway in Halton, near Runcorn, started in May 2014 and a trestle bridge has now been finished to provide access to cofferdams being used for the foundations of the flagship crossing’s main towers.

Paul Sanders, director of Mersey Gateway lead design firm Flint and Neill, spoke at an ICE bridges conference today about some of the bridge’s key features and the challenges the team faced during its construction.

The main crossing will feature a 1km stretch of cable stayed bridge in its central section. Construction of the foundations for the northern approach is now well underway with up to 90% of the piling complete.

“There is a huge amount of contaiminated land as it has a long industrial history and that has led to some tricky conditions,” he said.

“There was a mustard gas factory on the south side during the war and when it was no longer required they simply bulldozed and buried it. On the north side there was a soap factory and some of the by-products of that were dumped in the ground and again they’re highly toxic.”

The bridge has been procured as a concession contract with construction companies Kier, FCC and Samsung appointed as design and build contractors. The concession contract duration is for 30 years and Sanders said that early involvement with the team had “embedded the values at the project’s core”.

The bridge is due to be opened in autumn 2017 boasting a six-lane toll bridge over the Mersey between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes.

It has been built to relieve congestion on the ageing Silver Jubilee Bridge. Both the new Mersey Gateway Bridge and the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge will be tolled, but will be free for local residents to cross.

Politicians and dignitaries today flocked to the area as the final section of the parallel temporary bridge was put into place.

Four pupils from two local schools took part in a ceremony on the temporary bridge, shaking hands and swapping gifts.

Completion of the structure gave contractors full access to the construction of the foundations of the three main piers which form the masts for the cable stayed structure.

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