The pupils and their teachers travelled along the trestle bridge from each side of the river (Spike Island on the north side and Wigg Island on the south side) to meet in the middle, where they shook hands to symbolise the new bridge joining the two towns together. The temporary trestle bridge is the first bridge to be built over the River Mersey in Halton since 1961, when the Silver Jubilee Bridge was opened.
It will act as an access platform for construction teams to work from when building the new river crossing. Built purely for construction teams and machinery, the trestle bridge is not open to the public.
Hugh O’Connor, general manager of Merseylink, said: “This is an important milestone for the project. Completion of the trestle has enabled us to start to build the central cofferdam and excavate foundations for the bridge pylons. The new bridge will connect Runcorn and Widnes and their respective communities so we were very pleased to get local schoolchildren involved.”
The economic, transport and social benefits the project will bring to the region include:
- 470 permanent full-time equivalent jobs on site during construction
- 4,640 permanent direct and indirect jobs
- £61.9 million a year in Gross Value Added from the new jobs by 2030.
When it opens in 2017, both the new bridge and the Silver Jubilee Bridge will be tolled, but they will be free to all Halton residents.
Photography for Little People are the leading experts in the UK at making beautiful impression frames that are treasured forever. The company was commissioned to take handprints for the four children and make a series of commemorative impression frames that will be on display within both schools as well as the project office.
Jan Massey, co owner of Photography for Little People says: “It was an honor to be invited to join the celebrations and meet the team involved in The Mersey Gateway. The site was very impressive and the whole project was very inspiring.“
Following the celebrations on the trestle bridge the children were invited to have their hand prints taken for the commemorative frames that will be made by Photography for Little People.
Melanie Kemp, co-owner of Photography for Little People and trainer within the company said: “The children loved it! They loved seeing the detail I was able to capture within the clay. They are so excited to see the finished frames and have them pride of place within their schools.”