The works will involve Peel Ports investing around £6million in undertaking a complete structural, mechanical, electrical refurbishment and repainting programme to improve the longevity of this key asset.
The swing bridge, across the Manchester Ship Canal, links Stockton Heath village to the town centre and the north.
Peel Ports and Warrington Borough Council are in advanced discussions for the major refurbishment works to begin in April 2023. This date has been chosen in order to ensure that there is sufficient time for preparations to be made for these works, to ensure that their impact can be mitigated as much as possible.
However, it is clear that these essential works will cause considerable disruption, and both Peel Ports and the council feel it is vital to give as much warning time as possible of the planned works.
The chosen start date will also ensure that the majority of the works are undertaken during more favourable weather conditions. In addition, the inclusion of the summer holidays in the works period (where traffic flows and associated disruption will also be reduced), aims to minimise disruption to children travelling to and from school.
Peel Ports estimate that the works will take approximately nine months to complete and have ensured 12 months’ notice to communicate this so bridge users can make alternative arrangements during this time.
Their appointed contractor has looked at all options to undertake these works while maintaining some access for people to cross the bridge. However, due to the extent of the refurbishment, the works can only be carried out safely with the bridge being completely closed to all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, bus services and motorists.
In the coming months, the council and Peel Ports will be working together to develop a mitigation and logistics plan which will help prepare and inform the community, for the social, transport, environmental and economic implications of the work.
This will include a focus on maintaining normal movement of traffic and minimising disruption to people in Warrington as much as possible.
Warrington Borough Council’s cabinet member for transportation, highways and public realm, Cllr Hans Mundry, said: “Stockton Heath swing bridge plays a vital role in Warrington’s highways network, and major repair and repainting works have been needed on the bridge for some time.
“I’m pleased that we are close to reaching a way forward with Peel Ports for a full programme of refurbishment works to take place next year. This will be a transformative project, providing a more reliable, attractive and safer bridge which will benefit our town for many years to come.
“Of course, we know – as with any works of this scale – that there will be an impact on people who use the bridge, while the refurbishment takes place. That’s why, ahead of the start of works next year, we will be working very closely with Peel Ports to develop a comprehensive plan which will minimise disruption to the travelling public as much as possible.”
Phil Hall, Port Director – Mersey Division at Peel Ports Group, said: “We are committed to continuing to work closely with Warrington Borough Council to refurbish Stockton Heath swing bridge, subject to final operational approval. Although we looked at all options to provide some continued access to the bridge, safety is paramount and we must close it completely to ensure this for both bridge users and our contractors.
“By targeting April 2023 for the beginning of the work, we are providing 12-months’ notice that should assist bridge users in making alternative arrangements for travel.”