A major road closure in Widnes that will be required for the construction of the Mersey Gateway Project has been confirmed.

The A557 Watkinson Way, which links the Silver Jubilee Bridge and Widnes Eastern Bypass, will close permanently in both directions from 7.30pm on Sunday 23 April.

It is expected that this major route closure will add time to drivers’ journeys in the area.

The essential closure is required because the team needs to finish construction of the new road network in Widnes to enable traffic to access the new bridge and to ensure quicker, easier and more reliable journeys across the river.

This section of Watkinson Way will be dismantled and removed over the coming months as part of this work, opening up extra land for development opportunities in the area.

The signed diversion route (above) for the closure will take traffic travelling between the Widnes Eastern Bypass and the Silver Jubilee Bridge via the new Widnes Loops roundabout, Hutchinson Street and Wandsworth Way.

Wandsworth Way will be open to two-way traffic to maximise vehicle flow in the area until the new bridge opens.

There will be a temporary diversion route created for a short period on the evening of Sunday 23 April which will take traffic using this route via Ditton Junction whilst the full-time diversion route and signage is fully set-up.

The construction team at Merseylink originally thought the route would have needed to be closed for a much longer period – around 18 months – but they revised the works programme to keep Watkinson Way open for an extra year.

Hugh O’Connor, General Manager of the Merseylink Consortium, said: “We always knew we’d have to close Watkinson Way completely to finish the work but I’m very pleased that we have been able to keep the route partially open over the past twelve months. As ever, I’d urge everyone to drive safely through the roadworks in the area, because that is vital for keeping drivers, pedestrians and workers safe along the route.”

Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Borough Council, said: “It is good to see the project team is now re-opening roads more than we are closing them, and I know that reducing the closure time for Watkinson Way by 12 months is much appreciated by everyone who drives through Widnes. It’s worth remembering that we’re getting a lot closer to the day when the new bridge will mean quick, easier and more reliable journeys for everyone across the river.”

Drivers can keep up to date with traffic management issues around Widnes and Runcorn by listening and watching for new alerts on road signage and social media, or by visiting the Down Your Street section on the Mersey Gateway website