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New bridge over Mersey

Tories come to North West bearing gifts

Written by . Published on October 3rd 2011.


New bridge over Mersey

HAPPY 50th birthday to the Silver Jubilee Bridge. Your prezzie? You are about to be pensioned off.

The Jubilee Bridge is better known as the Runcorn-Widnes road bridge, spanning the Mersey between the once-bitter rival chemical towns.

It’s one of the few suicide-leaps in the world
where if you take your time before you jump
angry motorists would happily chuck you over the side

Chancellor George Osborne, who represents the Cheshire constituency of Tatton, today announced a government package worth £150m  that will clear the hurdle for a spectacular Golden Gate style bridge.

Today’s announcement was heavily trailed, even at the end of the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool last week.

Halton Labour MP Derek Twigg predicted a big announcement today at the Tory pow-wow in Manchester.

The Tories are in the North West – they will want something to show the region is in their thoughts and the new bridge ticks the right boxes,” Derek told me just outside the arena, here, last week.

There are, though, other hurdles for Labour dominated Halton Council, the local authority spearheading the Mersey Gateway Project, costing, in total, a cool half a billion pounds.

Because the bulk of the funding will come from the private sector the new bridge will have to be tolled, probably in keeping with the charges for the Mersey tunnels.

So by the time the new bridge opens, in around five years time, it could be £2 a time to cross it. The expectation is the existing bridge will be kept for local light traffic.

The action group long campaigning for the two Mersey tunnels to be toll-free have been constant critics of a tolled bridge between Widnes and Runcorn. It will mean traffic having to head to Warrington or the Thelwall Viaduct to cross the river for free.

There is likely to be a concessionary scheme for local residents, but the cost is yet to be resolved.

The new bridge will cost £589 millionThe new bridge will cost £589 millionIn recent years, Tesco has opened a huge distribution centre in Widnes, there’s an emerging rail-road complex also in Widnes and talk of Amazon opening a massive logistics base in Halton.

As Derek Twigg told me: “Those big name operators will have developed in Halton on the basis of a new bridge, and they must be satisfied with the fees for crossing the bridge.”

The existing 1,000 ft span bridge, a popular background for film and advert makers, opened in July 1961 with a capacity of just 9,000 vehicles a day. It was widened to four lanes some years later increasing capacity to 15,000 vehicles a day

Today something like 90,000 vehicles a day cross the bridge, and as many people know it does not take much of a hiccup to cause massive gridlock.

It’s one of the few suicide-leaps in the world where if you take your time before you jump angry motorists would happily chuck you over the side.

It was re-named the Silver Jubilee Bridge in 1977 to mark the Queen’s 25th anniversary on the throne.

That bridge replaced one of the modern wonders of the Edwardian age, the Meccano-like Transporter Bridge which cradled vehicles, char-a-bancs and horse drawn carts on a dangling platform from the early 1900s. Pity it was ever demolished.

Alongside is the castle-like rail bridge carrying the main West Coast line to Liverpool. Like the new bridge that structure also faced delays about funding. In fact it was originally planned as a cantilevered canal to take the Bridgewater Canal into Liverpool. The talking went on for so long that when the go-ahead was given canals had been replaced by railways.

New Bridge
Will Halton Borough become one of the few places in the UK where a charge will have to be paid for passing across its patch?



People opposed to dipping into their pockets will soon change their minds when confronted with a back of a queue stretching for miles along the approach roads. The fuel used in those snail-pace journeys is much higher than the tunnel toll, putting aside the wear and tear on vehicle and the sanity of the driver.

So the Conservatives have arrived in the North West bearing gifts. I suppose we should be ever so grateful.

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Vauxhall VictorOctober 3rd 2011.

I trust that large, heavy cars (particularly four-wheel-drives) will pay a higher level of toll to reflect the higher level of wear and tear they inflict on road surfaces and the structure of the bridge?

The DanglerOctober 3rd 2011.

Hardly a “Golden Gate-style bridge” – the artist’s impression looks very like the suspension bridge at Connah’s Quay, a far more modern design than ye olde Golden Gate yank bridge!

The DanglerOctober 3rd 2011.

The 'action group' ought to stop whingeing. If they were THAT poor they wouldn't be driving around in a car.

£2 per crossing will be a bargain; in five years' time a litre of petrol will cost more than that. Pedestrians already pay more than that to travel one stop through the Mersey Tunnel on a bus, and have been doing so for some time!

Thinkagain.October 4th 2011.

Yet another unbaised leftie supporting article from Confidential.

Sixth FormerOctober 4th 2011.

Hooray!

Weby72October 4th 2011.

@ Think Again

Quite how that article is in any way 'leftie-supporting' beats me. I thought it reported the facts and arguments in a non-partisan way.

Re: the new bridge & the tolls, I think it's a disgrace that the old bridge will be tolled. That has already been paid for by taxpayers.

Of course, it's obvious why it will be tolled - to stop there being a free alternative to the new bridge, when there's money to be farmed out of its construction.

Just like Labour and its PFI scam, this scheme will generate massive profits for big business, at the expense of those either have to or choose to travel.

A bridge too farOctober 4th 2011.

@ Think Again. I have to agree with Weby 72 here. There is nothing remotely leftie about this article, indeed who can tell the difference between any of the parties any more when all of them in successive governments have rolled over and allowed big business and their PFI scams to rule the country

It IS absolutely scandalous that a bridge we have had for generations should suddenly become tolled, and if that is what you consider a left wing sentiment, then you are clearly a deranged and dangerous man

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