A MAJOR road in Widnes is closing to make way for the Mersey Gateway and is likely to cause traffic delays and disruption.

The A557 Watkinson Way which links the Silver Jubilee Bridge and Widnes Eastern Bypass will shut permanently in both directions - between The Hive leisure park and the bridge - from 7.30pm on Sunday, April 23.

It is expected that this major route closure will add time to drivers’ journeys in the area.

The essential closure is required because the team needs to finish construction of the new road network in Widnes to enable traffic to access the new bridge and to ensure quicker, easier and more reliable journeys across the river.

This section of Watkinson Way will be dismantled and removed over the coming months as part of this work, opening up extra land for development opportunities in the area.

A diversion will take traffic travelling between the Widnes Eastern Bypass and the Silver Jubilee Bridge via the new Widnes Loops roundabout, Hutchinson Street and Wandsworth Way.

Wandsworth Way will be open to two-way traffic to maximise vehicle flow in the area until the new bridge opens.

There will be a temporary diversion route created for a short period on the evening of Sunday, April 23 which will take traffic using this route via Ditton Junction whilst the full-time diversion route and signage is fully set-up.

The construction team at Merseylink originally thought the route would have needed to be closed for a much longer period – around 18 months – but they revised the works programme to keep Watkinson Way open for an extra year.

Hugh O’Connor, general manager of the Merseylink Consortium, said: “We always knew we’d have to close Watkinson Way completely to finish the work but I’m very pleased that we have been able to keep the route partially open over the past twelve months.

“I’d urge everyone to drive safely through the roadworks in the area, because that is vital for keeping drivers, pedestrians and workers safe along the route.”

Halton Council leader Cllr Rob Polhill said: “It is good to see the project team is now re-opening roads more than we are closing them.

“I know that reducing the closure time for Watkinson Way by 12 months is much appreciated by everyone who drives through Widnes.

“It’s worth remembering that we’re getting a lot closer to the day when the new bridge will mean quick, easier and more reliable journeys for everyone across the river.”