Work at junction 2 of the M53 at Moreton, west of Birkenhead, will start on Thursday 5 February and is expected to take up to four months to complete.
Highways Agency project sponsor Louise Baxendale said:
We are delivering on a promise we made to local people to resolve the long-running issue and re-open the junction to all traffic and restore two lanes and the hard shoulder to the slip roads.
Needless to say, there will be some disruption to journeys while we carry out the work but we have been working closely with partners like Wirral Council, Merseytravel and the police to agree timings and suitable diversion routes.
The work includes renewing two new bridges which carry the junction slips roads over the main motorway carriageway. Drivers are being advised that the southbound exit and entry slip roads will close to all traffic for around 16 and 12 weeks respectively. The northbound slip roads will also need to be closed overnight at times and there will be at least two full weekend closures of the main motorway carriageway to allow the bridge structures to be removed and replaced safely. A 50mph speed limit and narrowed lanes will be in place in both directions along the M53 through junction 2.
Councillor Stuart Whittingham, Wirral Council Cabinet member for Highways and Transportation, said:
We have been working with the Highways Agency to ensure that disruption to people travelling in and through the borough is kept to a minimum while these works take place. However, some inconvenience is inevitable which is why we’re urging motorists to heed the advice and information which is being issued and be patient while they are asked to follow the marked diversion routes.
The existing slip road bridges have weakened with age and in August 2011 a maximum weight limit of 7.5 tonnes was introduced and the link road reduce to a single lane. The bridges must be strengthened to re-open the link road with to its full capacity of 2 running lanes and a hard shoulder.
Details of the work include the south slip road bridge having its centre bridge deck span completely removed, the side span half joints strengthened, and a new centre span installed. The east slip road bridge will have its half joints at either end of the centre span demolished and strengthened in situ.
The work to both bridges will be carried out concurrently to maximise the effectiveness of the road closures and minimise disruption to residents, businesses and the travelling public. The concurrent works include:
- both the southbound exit and entry slip will be closed to gain safe access to the bridges
- the Moreton South bridge deck will be removed and the side half joints strengthened
- the Moreton East bridge deck will be temporarily propped and strengthened in-situ
- when Moreton East strengthening works are complete and the props removed the southbound entry slip will be re-opened
- anew bridge deck to Moreton South will be installed
- the top of deck and carriageway finishes to the southbound exit slip will be completed and the southbound exit slip re-opened without any traffic restrictions
Work will take place between 7am and 6pm each day with further occasional overnight work between 8pm and 5am when the junction will be closed to northbound as well as southbound traffic.
Delays are expected during the construction of the scheme and it is advised drivers plan their journey to allow for extra time travelling through the works.
Drivers are urged to check travel conditions before setting out on journeys. The Highways Agency provides live traffic information via its website www.highways.gov.uk/traffic, local and national radio travel bulletins, electronic road signs and mobile platforms, such as the iPhone. Local Twitter services are also available at @HAtraffic_nwest.
Providing they can do so safely, road users can also call the Highways Agency Information Line (0300 123 5000) to keep up to date with road conditions.
The dedicated webpage for the project is updated regularly and drivers can sign up to personal email alerts when updates are available.
Merseytravel, which operates the Mersey tunnels, is advising people travelling to and from Liverpool that the Queensway (Birkenhead) tunnel offers an alternative route and will be available throughout the work apart from during scheduled maintenance closures. More information is available on the Merseytravel website.
Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.