THE Silver Jubilee bridge will be closed for pedestrians, cyclists and people using mobility scooters whilst refurbishment is being carried out.

Halton Council confirmed a decision to close the footpath and cycleway on grounds of health and safety.

On weekdays from Monday, November 6, a free shuttle bus will ferry pedestrians, cyclists and their bikes and people using mobility scooters across the river.

The service will operate Monday to Friday, picking up/dropping off every 15 minutes between 7.30am and 4pm from two locations only - in Runcorn, at the end of the approach viaduct near to Doctor's Bridge, and in Widnes at the end of Waterloo Road near to the junction with West Bank Street.

Outside of these hours and at weekends the footpath/cycleway will be open as normal.

Halton Cllr Stan Hill, board member for transportation said: “It had always been our intention to keep the footpath/cycleway open during the refurbishment.

“But the safety of the public must be our priority and having considered all options and taken advice from health and safety experts, we must regrettably restrict access while works take place.

“We know many local people use the footpath/cycleway to get to work and for leisure.

“That is why we have put in place a free shuttle bus service so that the disruption to pedestrians and cyclists is kept to a minimum.”

The unique characteristics of the bridge and its environment have meant that as the scheme for carrying out the refurbishment works has been developed, it has been necessary to adapt original plans, particularly in relation to the design of the scaffolding that is required for painting and other works to take place.

As a consequence, the council says it would not be safe for the public to cross the bridge while work at heights is taking place.

This means that it will be necessary to restrict access whilst these scaffolding works are ongoing.

When it reopens, the refurbished Silver Jubilee Bridge will provide enhanced facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, including a dedicated cycle lane. It is expected that the works, which also include repainting and essential maintenance of the ageing bridge will be completed by Spring 2019.

Cyclists and pedestrians are prohibited from the new Mersey Gateway bridge.

A Mersey Gateway spokesman said: “The River Mersey (Mersey Gateway Bridge) Order 2011 prohibits pedestrians and cyclists from using the Mersey Gateway bridge on safety grounds as it is a major 60mph six-lane route, and byelaws regulating the use and operation of the new crossing have been passed to this effect.

"The Silver Jubilee bridge provides a much shorter and direct route between the two town centres and will be modified for this local use with designated cycle and pedestrian routes.

“We are making it clear across the media and our extensive communications channels that cyclists and pedestrians are prohibited from the new Mersey Gateway Bridge and we will continue to relay this message.

"Any cyclist or pedestrian found using the Mersey Gateway bridge will be in contravention of the byelaws and become liable for prosecution. We want everybody to enjoy the magnificent new bridge safely and urge all users to please pay close attention to the new road signs and layout, follow the speed limits and drive safely.”