Some good news for the North West?
The Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has just announced that the stalled Mersey Bridge Project will be getting the go ahead after his government pledged to pump an extra £150m into the project.
The Mersey Gateway had been put on hold pending the outcome of the Treasury's Spending Review last year although the Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that the six-lane toll bridge, agreed under the last government, would escape the axe under the review.
Hammond confirmed the agreement in a news release issued today by the Department for Transport, saying: “The Mersey Gateway Bridge is an important transport project which will improve journeys and boost economic growth. It will not only provide much needed traffic relief for the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge, but also help to regenerate the Borough of Halton, the Liverpool city region and the wider north west by improving transport links, maximising local development and regional economic growth opportunities.
He added: “In response to the Government’s request to reduce costs, Halton Borough Council have achieved savings of around £30m on the original proposed cost – meaning the scheme will offer better value to the taxpayer, whilst bringing vital improvements to the region. Further cost savings are expected through a competitive procurement process.”
Construction is expected to begin in 2013 and is due to be open for traffic in 2016. The construction cost (including land) is around £600m which the Department for Transport will support with a mixture of capital grant and revenue funding for the bridge’s continued operation.