Drivers face rush-hour chaos amid six-month closure of Liverpool’s Churchill Way flyovers

Inspection of both flyovers found several design and construction flaws, including drainage, internal support and barriers and they will close for further investigations from 8pm Friday. Tony McDonough reports

Churchill Way
One of the two Churchill Way flyovers carrying traffic into the city centre

 

Liverpool city centre’s two Churchill Way flyovers will close for up to six months after a routine inspection uncovered potentially dangerous flaws.

The closure of both flyovers could cause potential rush-rush-hour chaos as both flyovers, consisting of two separate roads linking Lime Street to Dale Street (south flyover) and Tithebarn Street (north flyover), carry huge volumes of traffic in and out of the city.

The two-lane, concrete fly-overs, which were opened in 1970 as part of a £2.4m Mersey Tunnel relief scheme, will close in both directions at 8pm tonight (Friday, September 28) to allow more detailed inspections to take place.

Maintenance regime

They run directly behind the city’s museums and galleries in William Brown Street and have been under constant assessment since the 1980s when they were closed for repairs. There were further remedial works in 2005 and 2013 as part on an ongoing maintenance regime.

Churchill Way (south) was set for demolition as part the Merseytram light rail scheme, but the project was shelved in 2013.

Following new legislation on major highways structures a Post Tension Site Investigation (PTSI) began in 2016 to assess the northern and southern sections, both of which are more than 240 metres in length.

This has found several design and construction flaws, including drainage, internal support, barriers and bearings and has recommended further intrusive investigations be carried out which requires a full closure.

Churchill Way
Aerial view of Liverpool’s Churchill Way flyovers

 

Specialist engineers

It is anticipated this new survey, which will be undertaken by specialist engineers and will involve structural testing, removal of the road surface and drilling into the decks as well as underground assessments of every supporting column, is expected to take at least six months to complete.

The diversion routes will be as follows:

  • North Flyover – Traffic on Tithebarn Street will be directed to take a left on Vauxhall Road then right on to Leeds Street, then right on to Byrom Street and up Hunter Street to the junction with St Anne Street and into the city centre.
  • South Flyover – Traffic on Lime Street will be directed to continue onto Commutation Row then left onto Islington, down on to Hunter Street then left onto Byrom Street into the city centre – where they can access lower Dale Street from the tunnel roundabout. Equally traffic on Hunter Street can continue north on the A59 and then take a left at Leeds Street to access the waterfront.

Cllr James Noakes, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “This most recent survey we commissioned has now revealed certain elements of the structure cannot be guaranteed as safe – which given its age and past history is not surprising – and with any risk we cannot take any chances.

This is a complex process requiring numerous tests along the entire span and added to the fact there are no access chambers to assist the engineers it will take at least six months to do.

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