A second bridge across the Mersey between Runcorn and Widnes is currently being planned. See here for more details:http://www.merseycrossing.co.uk/
My parents, who live in Runcorn, have recently received a consultation questionnaire about this, combined with a fairly detailed plan.
I have a number of concerns:
- The bridge will be tolled, at a rate similar to the Mersey tunnels (currently £1.30 each way). Surely this will lead to much diversion of longer-distance traffic through Warrington or over the M6 Thelwall Viaduct, so we may end up with less traffic on two bridges than we currently have on one
- The tolls will increase severance between the two communities of Runcorn and Widnes and act as a strong deterrent to just popping across for a casual visit
- The usefulness of the current Silver Jubilee Bridge will be reduced by removing many of its connections at each end - apparently just turning them into signalised T-junctions, and possibly reducing it from 4 lanes to 2. This will limit the flexibility of the local transport network and make the current bridge much less effective as a diversionary route when the new bridge is closed.
- The plans suggest that a number of the current grade-separated junctions on the Runcorn Expressways will be removed or compromised, thus retarding free traffic flow and increasing congestion
As a free bridge, with the Silver Jubilee Bridge and its connections left intact, it would be a no-brainer, but as a toll project I question whether it's worthwhile.
Scotland is currently showing the way in getting rid of bridge tolls - why shouldn't England follow?