Liverpool’s Churchill Way flyovers will have to be demolished, says city council

City centre structures, which have been carrying traffic since 1970, were closed in September last year after a routine inspection uncovered serious construction flaws. Tony McDonough reports

Churchill Way flyovers
Liverpool City Council is to demolish the Churchill Way flyovers


Liverpool’s Churchill Way flyovers are to be demolished following the discovery of serious defects which mean they can no longer safely carry vehicles or pedestrians.

The city centre structures, which have been carrying traffic in and out of the city centre since 1970, were closed in September last year after a routine inspection uncovered serious construction flaws.

More detailed investigations have concluded the flyovers cannot be strengthened and will therefore have to be pulled down. Making them safe could cost up to £60m while demolition will cost just £5.7m.

New legislation

They comprise two separate roads linking Lime Street to Dale Street (south flyover) and Tithebarn Street (north flyover), running directly behind the city’s museums and galleries in William Brown Street.

They were closed in the 1980s for repairs and further remedial works were carried out  in 2005 and 2013 as part on a regular maintenance regime. Following new legislation on major highways structures, a Post Tensioned Special Inspection (PTSI) began in 2016 to assess the northern and southern sections, both of which are more than 240 metres in length.

This found problems with drainage, internal support, barriers and bearings which led to the flyovers being shut last autumn for investigations into potential hidden defects and potential overstress.

Since then, structural testing has been carried out, involving removal of the road surface, drilling into the decks and underground assessments of every supporting column has been carried out.

Engineers from Amey have found the quality of construction using concrete and steel was poor, with tendons and ducts corroded and signs of structural distress including cracking over some supports.

Summer start

Work is expected to start on taking them down in the summer, and in the meantime the council will be developing proposals to improve the Queensway Tunnel roundabout and the Hunter Street interchange at an estimated cost of £10m to cope with increased traffic flow caused by the loss of the flyovers.

Churchill Way flyovers
Rotten formwork caused by water penetration into the Churchill Way flyovers


The footbridges across Hunter Street will be fitted with temporary ramps to allow pedestrians to cross the road and minimise the impact on traffic flow.

Cllr James Noakes, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “The Churchill Way flyovers are a relic of a plan from half a century ago that was never completed.

Public safety is absolutely paramount and despite the obvious inconvenience the demolition will cause, we can’t compromise on safety and it is simply not economically viable to make them safe.

Although there has been an increase in traffic at peak times in and around the Queensway Tunnel as a result of the closure, the city has been able to cope with it. What we will now be doing is working up detailed designs for junction improvements which will help deal with the removal of the flyovers.

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