The Mersey Gateway Project, a £1.86-billion scheme, is a remarkable example of civil engineering. The 2.3-km, six-lane toll bridge is made of reinforced concrete supported by steel cable stays attached to pylons rising 80–125 m above the river bed. The bridge spans the River Mersey and links the towns of Widnes and Runcorn, connecting the motorway network in north Cheshire with Merseyside. At any one time, the project employed 1000 people with more than 450 employed full time during construction. The immediate benefits are obvious: reducing journey times during peak periods, increasing reliable journey planning and connecting Liverpool with Cheshire and the greater North West. But the health benefits must also be considered: the bridge will improve walking and cycling facilities and reduce air pollution, which will improve the well-being of local residents. Once completed, more than 500 people will remain in full-time employment.
From the project’s inception, RSK provided multidisciplinary engineering and environmental support services, and wide-ranging tender, build, finance and operate contract support for Merseylink. Moreover, before construction began, stringent planning conditions and monitoring regime approvals were needed for environmental aspects. RSK’s experienced environmental experts prepared and maintained a detailed discharging programme and obtained all the necessary environmental consents for the work. In parallel, we worked closely with the civils and landscape designers to ensure due consideration of the environmental constraints and opportunities. Our environmental design coordinator was also able to consult specialists in RSK across the full range of environmental topics, as appropriate within the framework of a single subcontract.
RSK’s appointments ran in parallel to those of the engineering designers and construction teams, which enabled it to bring a specialist multidisciplinary environmental focus to the project, including constructive challenging and innovative thinking. The unique mix of high-quality consultancy and hands-on delivery of technical services and work also enabled RSK to propose and then implement its ideas.