Mersey Gateway Bridge

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Mersey Gateway Bridge
Lancashire, Cheshire
Runcorn bridges aerial.jpg
The Mersey Gateway from the air
Carrying: A533
Crossing: River Mersey
Grid reference: SJ52638422
Location: 53°21’10"N, 2°42’47"W
Length: 1.4 miles
Main span: 1043 feet
Design: Cable-stayed
Material: Concrete and steel
Built May 2014 – October 2017
Architect: Knight Architects

The Mersey Gateway Bridge is a toll bridge almost a mile and a half long spanning the broad stream of the River Mersey between Runcorn on the Lancashire bank and Widnes on the Cheshire bank, and crossing too the Manchester Ship Canal. It opened in October 2017

The bridge has three traffic lanes in each direction and is approximately mile east (upstream) of the older Silver Jubilee Bridge. It forms part of a wider project to upgrade the infrastructure around the Mersey crossings that includes major civil engineering work to realign the road network, change and add tolling to the Silver Jubilee Bridge, and build new interchanges together with landscaping five and a half miles of highway.[1]

History before construction

When the first road bridge between Runcorn and Widnes opened in 1961 (renamed the Silver Jubilee Bridge in 1977), it replaced the Widnes–Runcorn Transporter Bridge, a 19th-century steam-powered cable-truss transporter that carried four cars in 2½ minutes across the Mersey.[2] The replacement crossing was designed to carry 8,000 vehicles a day; however, 50 years later more than 80,000 vehicles were using the through arch bridge and surrounding road network daily, which was ten times its expected capacity.[3]

A new crossing was therefore proposed to relive the stress on the transport network and improve the local towns.[4]

In 2001 Ramboll was appointed the lead technical consultant on the project. It worked as part of a technical adviser team composed of CH2M, Ramboll, IBI and Knight Architects, to support the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board with the technical and contractual administration of the project and to help it fulfil its contractual obligations.[5]

Design and construction

The bridge under construction
The Bridge at low tide

After extensive site preparation, construction work began on 7 May 2014 and the bridge opened to traffic just after midnight on 14 October 2017.[6]

The bridge has three towers that support a cable-stayed crossing over the river, while the southern approach creates a second bridge over the Ship Canal. The three towers are different heights: a 262-foot central pylon, a 360-foot pylon on the north side and a 410-foot south pylon.[3]

The total cable stayed span is 3274 feet, made up of two main spans of 1,043 feet and 965 feet, and two side spans of 673 feet and 594 feet. The crossing's total length, including approach viaducts, is 1.4 miles.[7] The deck is made from reinforced concrete with a maximum clearance of 75 feet above the river.[3] As the water depth was too low at this point for marine construction vessels, a trestle almost a mile long was built out into the Mersey to drive in the bridge's pilings.[3]

Driving the bridge

New roads were built to connect the bridge to the highway network. An interchange and a junction were built to join the southern end to Runcorn's existing A533 Central Expressway. On the northern side, the old route of the A563 was demolished and replaced with a dual carriageway to the A562 Speke Road. Embankments on the Widnes side were constructed from decontaminated material excavated along the route from former industrial brownfield sites: treating and reusing the material meant that it did not need to be removed from the construction zone.[3] The new crossing was expected to improve journey times by up to 10 minutes during peak times compared to the old bridge.[7]

A nature reserve of 70 acres was established around the bridge and the surrounding riverside, managed by the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust, an independent charity tasked with promoting biodiversity, landscape, science, and educational opportunities.[8] This scheme, which will help conserve important ecological sites such as the Astmoor salt marshes, is part of the 4,000-acre Upper Mersey Estuary project that covers everything upstream of the Mersey Gateway Bridge as far as Warrington.[9]

Mersey Gateway Project

The construction of the bridge has led to wider infrastructure changes. The Silver Jubilee Bridge was closed upon the Gateway's opening and will be re-opened in 2020 after repair and conversion into a toll bridge. The changes were designed to improve access for pedestrians and cyclists.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Mersey Gateway Bridge)


  1. "Thousands of trees and shrubs planted as major landscaping scheme gets underway". Mersey Gateway Project. 14 March 2017. 
  2. Thompson, Dave (2000). Bridging the Years: The Story of Runcorn-Widnes Transporter Bridge. Widnes: Dave Thompson. pp. 12–15. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Project profile: Mersey Gateway". 13 December 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2018. 
  5. "The Mersey Gateway – six lane toll bridge". Ramboll UK Ltd. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  6. "Fireworks launch for new Mersey bridge". BBC News. 14 October 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2017. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "The Mersey Gateway Project". New Mersey Gateway. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  8. "Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust". Mersey Gateway Project. Retrieved 29 December 2017. 
  9. "Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust Projects". Mersey Gateway Project. Retrieved 29 December 2017. 

Bridges and crossings on the River Mersey
Mersey Railway Tunnel Ethelfleda Bridge Silver Jubilee Bridge Mersey Gateway Forrest Way Bridge Factory Lane Pipe Bridge Transporter Bridge