Work is to begin next week on a radical eco-friendly redesign of one of Liverpool’s most famous roads.
The Strand – which runs past the historic Royal Albert Docks, Liverpool ONE and Three Graces and hosted the finale to Liverpool FC’s Champions League homecoming last June – is to undergo a £22m upgrade in a bid to reduce congestion and improve safety and air quality.
A key element of the scheme is to create a permanent segregated cycle lane to connect the south of Liverpool to the north, allowing cyclists to eventually ride the full length of the Mersey from Otterspool to Southport. Plans are also being developed to ensure the city’s new 65-mile pop-up cycle lane network is connected.
New trees and public spaces are also being installed as part of a wider strategy to attract and promote walking in the city centre.
Untouched in its design layout since the 1950s the two kilometre long, four lane dual carriageway is often at gridlock at peak times and has become a hotspot for road accidents with four fatalities in the past two years.
From Monday, June 29 highways specialists Grahams – contractors for the council will start preparations for the £22m revamp. Excavation of the central reservation between Leeds St and Man Island will begin on Wednesday, 1 July.
This first phase of the scheme is scheduled to complete in September, with the second phase running from Mann Island to Upper Parliament Street completing in Spring 2021.
The redesign of The Strand aims to make the city’s World Heritage listed waterfront, with its docks, museums, venues and cruise terminal, more accessible for pedestrians with both the removal of a traffic lane in each direction and the closure of traffic junctions at Water Street and Mann Island with Goree.
The project is critical to the £47m Liverpool City Centre Connectivity (LCCC) scheme which has already led to changes to Victoria Street and Dale Street, the removal of the Churchill Way Flyover and will also include a revamp of Lime Street and a new coach park.
To keep traffic moving along the route, it is proposed that ‘no waiting at any time’ and ‘no loading at any time’ be introduced throughout and around the junctions with adjoining roads.
Based on computer modelling, it is estimated car journeys at peak times along The Strand – from the end of Leeds Street in the north to Upper Parliament Street in the south – will be reduced by more than a minute in both directions.
The significant redesigning of how key junctions are used, including the banning of turns cutting across The Strand, will also ensure traffic flow is more fluid meaning less air pollution, as cars are not stopping starting so frequently.
Preparatory work on the environmental element of the scheme has already begun on The Strand, with the first phase of an environmentally innovative type of tree planting on the central reservation. It is designed to alleviate flooding and will help the city adapt to future climate change.
The newly planted trees take the form of a tree Sustainable Urban Drainage system (SUDs) and will make use of any excess surface water on the carriageway, which will be diverted into the tree pit and tree watering system. This will both reduce the need for excess water to go into the drainage system and help to reduce the flooding pressure on the grids and gullies during periods of heavy rainfall. The SUDs approach is being used across the city centre in partnership with the Mersey Forest and the Urban Green UP project.
Councillor Sharon Connor, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “Redesigning The Strand has been a huge task and I’m delighted that after all the feedback from residents and businesses we are now at the point where we can begin the change.
“The redesign of The Strand is critical to making Liverpool city centre fit for the future – safer, cleaner and greener for everyone to enjoy.
“The city has declared a Climate Change Emergency and is working on a Clean Air plan, so being smarter with how we use our major roads is going to make a massive contribution in reducing congestion and therefore the city’s carbon footprint and air quality.
“The Strand’s safety record is appalling. Four fatalities in the past two years in unacceptable and shows what a hazard it is to pedestrians. By significantly redesigning how the junctions work we can take a lane out and the traffic will still flow better. As a result we can widen the pavements for pedestrians to ensure a safer experience and install a segregated cycle lane.
“We know people have been sceptical as the idea of one less lane equals smoother traffic flow sounds counter-intuitive. But the fewer junctions are the key. Also people need to bear in mind that how buses use the city centre is about to change as well, which will become clearer when the new timetables are introduced later this summer.
“It’s important not to look at the changes to The Strand in isolation, All of these new and planned changes to our city centre roads are inter-connected and that’s how this scheme should be seen – not one at a time but as whole, fitting together.
“Of course, these changes are being introduced to reflect how the city centre has evolved and how people use it. That will continue as the city centre continues to develop – especially in the wake of Covid-19 and the renewed emphasis on active travel and cycling.”
Liverpool City Centre Connectivity (LCCC) – further details:
LCCC receiving £40.1m from the Local Growth Fund with local match funding of £7m and is a major part of Liverpool City Council’s Better Roads programme. Local Growth Funding is awarded to the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and invested through the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority through its Strategic Investment Fund.
Another element of the LCCC programme currently underway is Liverpool’s first dedicated coach park which is being created to accommodate the boom in coach visitors to the city centre, which last year equated to 160,000 more tourists than those who arrived via the cruise terminal.
Other LCCC phase 1 schemes include:
· Moorfields: Improving the footways to enhance the area and the entrance into Moorfields Station. Completed Summer 2019.
· Victoria Street: This will include removal of bus layovers as well as tree planting and new public realm features, creating wider footways and options for street café’s. Completing in July 2020
· Brownlow Hill: Creating a new cycle link with Lime Street, and improved public areas that create a place for enjoying and accessing the Knowledge Quarter. Completing in July 2020.
· City Coach Park: On Riverside Drive – a dedicated facility with provision to accommodate 30 vehicles. Completing in August 2020.
Tithebarn Street: Includes creation of new cycleway to enhance links with Lime Street and the waterfront. Completing by March 2021.