Halton Borough Council can confirm that the Silver Jubilee Bridge (SJB), a Grade II Listed Structure and the seventh largest steel arch bridge in the world, is due to reopen to traffic in February 2021 as the major refurbishment programme nears completion.
The majority of the work is now finished, but there is one remaining 12 week project to complete before the bridge can fully reopen to vehicles. Since December 2019 pedestrians and cyclists have been able to use the SJB as they cannot use the Mersey Gateway. This will continue to be the case.
The opening of the Mersey Gateway Bridge in October 2017 provided the first ever opportunity to completely close the Silver Jubilee Bridge for maintenance during its 59 year life, because for the majority of that time it has been the only crossing of the Mersey for miles around.
Listed below is the work already carried out on the SJB during its closure.
- Refurbishment of the entire steel arch, including strengthening numerous bracing members that had extensive corrosion.
- The replacement of a cable hanger that had shown evidence of potential early stage failure.The first time this has ever been undertaken.
- The repainting of the entire arch, removing the old paint system, undertaking steel repairs and applying a new multi-coat system on to the bare steel.
- The entire concrete road deck has been repaired, re-waterproofed and resurfaced.
- Re-configuration of the deck into a single vehicle lane in either direction, together with dedicated cycle lane.This will allow the existing SJB footbridge to be solely for pedestrian use.
- Both bridge approach structures (Widnes and Runcorn) have been refurbished and re-configured with single lane traffic and new, widened cycleway/footway verges.
- Runcorn Approach Viaduct deck has been repaired, re-waterproofing and resurfaced and installed with new carriageway joints.
- Widnes Approach Viaduct has been resurfaced with new carriageway joints.
- The existing Runcorn Approach Viaduct West (connecting into the Trumpet Loop) has been demolished.
The Council has sought to open the SJB as soon as is possible, but any work undertaken on the bridge is complex due to its age, the uniqueness of the structure and the fact it is Grade II Listed. The final piece of work to do before the SJB can open to vehicles is to replace the safety system on the bridge’s edge, known as a parapet.
After demolition of Runcorn Approach Viaduct West (leading to Trumpet Loop), it was discovered that the remaining 75m section of existing parapet fixings, normally hidden from view, were corroded beyond repair. The new system must be fully certified and comply with current design standards. Locations where the new system will be installed need to be cut out of the structure and widened to allow the new fixings to have significant strength and adhere to current standards.
As a critical health and safety matter, the SJB cannot be opened up to vehicles until it is completed. The work will take in the region of 12 weeks. This means that the SJB will not re-open to vehicles until February next year.
The Council would like to apologise for this delay, but given the health and safety issues, there is no alternative but to keep the closure to vehicles in place. To reiterate, the bridge will remain open to pedestrians and cyclists throughout this period.