Merseylink Civil Contractors, a consortium made up of FCC ConstrucciÃ³n of Spain, Kier of the UK and Korea’s Samsung C&T, has completed on time a £600m ($800m) bridge over the Mersey estuary after three-and-a-half years of work.
The Mersey Gateway Bridge will connect the towns of Widnes and Runcorn near the neck of the estuary. It has a total length of 2,248m, and is made up of two viaducts on either side of a 1km six-lane cable-stayed span.
The toll bridge is part of a 9.2km road network commissioned by Halton Borough Council to connect the towns, which aims to improve communications between Liverpool and the motorway network of northwest of England.
According to the consortium, the structure has a unique design whereby the 80m-high central pylon is shorter than the two outer pylons, which are 110m in the north and 125m in the south.
The accompanying road network includes a total of 12 bridges and seven new or upgraded junctions. Some 1.5 million tonnes of previously contaminated materials were recovered and re-used to improve the project’s environmental credentials.
FCC Group brought in many of its subsidiaries to handle aspects of the work, including FCC Engineering Technical Services for the structural and geotechnical packages and FCC Plant Department for engineering and resources.Â
Protesters gathered outside Runcorn Town Hall to express their unhappiness with the toll regime (Twitter)
Juan Manuel Dochao, construction director for the consortium, said: "The project is more than just a bridge – the regional economic strategy identifies Mersey Gateway as a transformational project. It is the catalyst that will connect communities and lead regeneration and investment throughout Halton and the Northwest.
"The iconic design of the bridge will put the local area, Liverpool and the Northwest region firmly on the map and will encourage attention from all over the world."
After the bridge was opened there was protests over the fact that it is tolled, including a protest outside Runcorn town hall (pictured).
Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, said he expects that "once the bridge is paid for, the tolls go". Halton Council said the bills would be paid in 25 years, at which point a "review" of tolls would take place.
Top image: The bridge and its road network is the largest infrastructure project in England, outside London (FCC)