Birkenhead Tunnel to close this weekend as 600-tonne flyover span is removed

Next phase of £6.75m demolition of Liverpool’s Churchill Way flyovers starts this weekend with the Queensway Tunnel to close until Monday. Tony McDonough reports

Churchill Way
Churchill Way flyovers are being removed in a £6.75m operation

 

A 600-tonne, 70-foot long concrete span will be removed during the latest phases of the demolition of  Liverpool’s Churchill Way flyovers this weekend.

Opened in 1970, the flyovers were closed at the end of September 2018 following the discovery of serious structural flaws. A more detailed examination revealed that multiple, significant defects could not be reversed and a £6.75m demolition began this year.

The mammoth concrete span sits 50 feet above Byrom Street and the traffic using the nearby Birkenhead (Queensway) Tunnel – which will have to close for the weekend from 7pm on Friday, October 11.

Before the tunnel re-opens at 6am on Monday, October 14, contractors for Liverpool City Council will painstakingly remove the span, which sits at the heart of the the southern flyover, and then cut it into smaller sections at the site compound, after which it will be taken to a site in north Liverpool to be crushed.

The pedestrian crossing at Byrom Street under the southern flyover will also be closed to the public from Friday for two weeks until FridayOctober 25. The central section of the northern flyover was removed three weeks ago and the connecting footbridges have also been dismantled.

The full weekend closure of Byrom Street means the Tunnel will be shut to Liverpool-bound traffic only (except buses and emergency vehicles). Wirral-bound traffic will be able to use the tunnel as normal. The Wallasey (Kingsway) Tunnel will be open as normal but is expected to be busy, and congestion.

Those wishing to travel into and through Liverpool city centre this weekend are encouraged to use public transport and Merseytravel have provided updated information which can be viewed online at: www.merseytravel.gov.uk/churchillwayflyovers

Due to engineering works on the network on Sunday, October 13, rail replacement bus services will be in operation on the Merseyrail line between Birkenhead Central and Chester / Ellesmere Port, calling all stations.

Pedestrians needing to get to the LJMU campus on Byrom Street can go via Hatton Garden to Great Crosshall Street or via William Brown Street, Islington and Hunter Street (when not fully closed).

The highly complex removal of the 50-year-old flyovers – each of which are more than 240m in length – requires a total of 20 spans to be removed in a pre-determined sequence to mitigate impact in a very busy part of the city centre.

Churchill Way
The Churchill Way flyovers before they were closed in 2018

 

Once the demolition is completed in December, alterations will be made to the highway layout around the Hunter Street – Byrom Street – Queensway Tunnel entrance, to improve traffic and pedestrian movements.

Road closures currently in place for the scheme:

  • Fontenoy Street will remain closed until 15 November.
  • A partial closure of Dale Street from Byrom Street to Crosshall Street will be required from October 14.

Surrounding car parks at Fontenoy StreetDale StreetPrimrose Hill and Hunter Street have now all closed and will re-open as phases complete from mid- November to late December. If car journeys are necessary, motorists are being redirected to nearby car parks at Victoria Street, Mount Pleasant, Queen Square at St Johns Shopping Centre.

Councillor Sharon Connor, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet member for Highways, said: “Disruption is unfortunately unavoidable but a lot of thought has gone into the methodology to ensure the inconvenience to city centre traffic and surrounding buildings is kept to a minimum.

“Public transport will be the best option this weekend and we urge people to plan ahead when thinking about journeys to the city centre at these times.”

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