The Mersey Gateway
Construction Cost: £650 million.
The Halton Council website shows bridge camera images (1 frame every 30 seconds) from the North Bound and South Bound camera and are viewable here.
The Mersey Gateway
The Mersey Gateway bridge was built in 2014 and opened just after midnight on 14th October 2017. It is a cable-stayed bridge designed by Knight Architects and constructed by Merseylink CCJV – Kier Infrastructure and Overseas FCC Construccion Samsung C&T ECUK Consortium at a cost of £650 Million. It had 3 towers, the highest being 80m (260ft) in the middle with the north side pylon reaching 110m (360ft) and the South side pylon reaching 125m (410ft). The bridge is 2.3KM (1.4 miles) long.
A 28.5 ha (70-acre) nature reserve 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.
The bridge takes its toll on drivers
The Mersey Gateway is a toll bridge between Runcorn and Widnes in Cheshire, England which spans the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. The crossing which opened in october 2017, has three traffic lanes in each direction is approximately 1.5km east of the older Silver Jubilee Bridge. Over 70,000 vehicles cross the Mersey Gateway each day. That's 20,000 less vehicles than were crossing the smaller Jubilee bridge when it closed in 2017.
Once drivers are on the bridge the car registration is captured by several video cameras to be sure of a clear image and recognition against the licensed DVLA database and drivers have until midnight the following day to pay via the Merseyflow website or by phone
01928 878 878 (available 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and 9am-6pm Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays).
toll is £2.00 for cars and small vehicles (£1.80 for those who have registered) and up to £8 for HGV's. If you fail to pay an incurred toll by midnight of the following day, you will automaticallu incur a penalty notice of £40.00. This penalty is halved if you pay it within 14 days from the date of receiving the penalty notice which can take up to a week from the day you failed to pay. Removing operational costs, its likely to be another 20 years before the cost of the bridge is paid for.
Everything is fine!
The Merseyflow customer dashboard has issued over 1 million penalty charge notices (1 millionth issued in December 2018) generating over £10million in revenue. Baliffs have visited the homes of over 1,366 drivers (that's 1 in every 770 people who receive a fine). In the the first quarter of 2019 there were no less than 191,000 fines issued to drivers and April to June saw that figure increase by 50,000 to a whopping 293,000 fines per quarter!
The Merseyflow gateway still continues to confuse many visitors who cross the bridge wondering where the toll booths are. The big display signs suggesting drivers pay online and if you are not a blue badge holder, it can often be easily forgotten before midnight the following day, resulting in the penalty notices being issued.
It undoubteldy makes local residents think twice about 'popping over to Widnes' with many M6 drivers travelling via the Thewall viaduct, northbound rather than crossing the bridge. Its not necessarily the toll that puts off drivers who don't use it regularly, but the risk of forgetting to pay.
What is going to happen to the old Runcorn bridge?
Work is currenly underway to restructure the old A533 approach road and connection A557 approach roads (currently closed to traffic). The Jubilee bridge will re-open in the Autumn of 2020 with just one lane each-way. There will be provision for cycle tracks and more room for pedestrians.
Jubilee bridge toll
A toll will be introduced to keep it balanced with the Mersey Gateway tolls though this may be subject to delays at peak times for Weston point A557 and Runcorn A553 traffic.
Automatic Personal Number Plate recognition cameras will be installed on the approach road. However, due to the huge numbers of starlings that fly over the 87 metre-high bridge at twighlight, there's a good chance that camera visibility of car registration plates will be obscured by over-generous dollops of starling droppings over the cameras!
The original "Silver Jubilee" bridge opened in 1961. It was designed to carry 9,000 vehicles a day and had reached over 90,000 before it was closed.