THE team behind the Mersey Gateway project is celebrating a double triumph a week after construction started on the new £600 million bridge.

The project won the sustainability award at the prestigious national Ground Engineering Awards in London and best practice trophy at the north west Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation Awards.

The project was also highly commended in the technical excellence category at the Ground Engineering Awards and in the sustainability category at the north west CIHT awards.

All the awards were for the clean up work undertaken at the Catalyst Trade Park site in Widnes, one of several key clean up sites along the project route that have relatively high levels of contamination, due to the area’s industrial and chemical heritage.

Dr. Peter Fitch, Ramboll’s principal contaminated land engineer, said: “I am delighted that the success and importance of this work has been recognised by two different leading industry bodies. We worked with specialist experts from Celtic Technologies Ltd to do the work.

“Almost 17 tonnes of chlorinated solvent were removed from the ground on the site, which was way in excess of what we originally envisaged.”

The 13-month project to clean up contamination at the site was completed earlier this year so that construction of the new six-lane toll bridge over the River Mersey could start promptly.

It was a team effort as Halton Council planned and supervised the work which was delivered by its ts technical partners Ramboll and Celtic Technologies.

Halton Council leader Clr Rob Polhill said: “It’s great news that the Mersey Gateway team is winning awards. A lot of people have invested a great deal of time and energy into the planning work that has got us to the construction phase and I’m really pleased that these awards recognise their achievements.”

Trevor Bamber, project manager for Celtic Technologies, said: “The work involved lowering the water table and letting air into the soil. A large vacuum was then applied to the ground to remove the solvent and air at the same time as the water was pumped out so that everything could be dealt with together. The water was treated and re-injected back into the ground, while the air was cleaned before being released into the atmosphere.”

Access roads are now being built across the saltmarshes on both sides of the river to enable engineers to reach the construction site.