New phase of the £22m upgrade of The Strand in Liverpool coincides with the lifting of the latest COVID-19 lockdown and the increase in traffic is expected to cause delays. Tony McDonough reports
A new phase of the £22m upgrade of The Strand highway on Liverpool’s waterfront is expected to lead to more delays this week as the COVID-19 lockdown ends.
Contractors for Liverpool City Council began work on the major revamp of The Strand in June. And from Wednesday, December 2, the one-lane filter on the southbound carriageway will be extended so a new kerb line, footpath and to plant 13 new trees.
The one lane filter, which currently runs from the Leeds Street and Great Howard Street junctions to Water Street, will now continue to the next junction at Brunswick Street. Two lanes will remain from there until the James Street junction, opposite Mann Island.
It coincides with the lifting of the latest COVID-19 lockdown this week which will see non-essential shops and restaurants in the city centre reopening. This is likely to see a surge in Christmas shoppers coming into the city.
With public transport still limited due to COVID-19, motorists arriving into the city centre from the north to do Christmas shopping are advised to expect queues and allow for additional time for their journey. This current phase is due to end in March 2021 with further lane restrictions continuing from Chapel Street to James Street through to spring 2021.
Untouched in its design layout since the 1950s, the two kilometre long, four lane dual carriageway is often gridlocked at peak times and has become a hotspot for road accidents with four fatalities in the past two years.
The redesign of The Strand aims to make the city’s World Heritage listed waterfront, with its docks, museums, venues and cruise terminal, more accessible for pedestrians with both the removal of a traffic lane in each direction and the closure of traffic junctions at Water Street and Mann Island with Goree.
Another key element is to create a permanent segregated cycle lane to connect the south of Liverpool to the north, allowing cyclists to eventually ride the full length of the Mersey from Otterspool to Southport. Plans are also being developed to ensure the city’s new 65-mile pop-up cycle lane network is connected.
New trees and public spaces are also being installed as part of a wider strategy to attract and promote walking in the city centre. The project is critical to the £47m Liverpool City Centre Connectivity scheme.
Cllr Sharon Connor, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “We’re pleased with the progress so far on The Strand but this week is the first time we’ll see a return to what you could call “normal traffic” – and unfortunately this is going to mean queues and delays.
“The move out of lockdown into Tier 2 in the run up to Christmas is hugely welcome for our shops, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, but this also means extra traffic on The Strand at a time when its capacity has been reduced to enable the revamp.
“We’re working with the contractors to ensure disruption is kept to an absolute minimum, but a road scheme of this scale in the heart of the city centre is both complex and intrusive – and with a festive period like no other the impact is completely unavoidable.”