Work on a radical eco-friendly redesign of one of Liverpool’s most famous roads is to enter a new phase tonight (12 October).
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 undergoing a £22m upgrade in a bid to reduce congestion and improve safety and air quality.
Work began at the end of June and from Monday evening the first stretch of the southbound side will be filtered down to one lane to allow contractors to excavate the footway to reduce the four lane carriageway down to two.
The one lane filter will come into effect for traffic after the Leeds Street and Great Howard Street junctions and will continue until Chapel Street junction, just after the Queensway Tunnel exit. Two lanes will remain from there until the James Street junction, opposite Mann Island.
This phase is due to end in November 2020, with further lane restrictions continuing from Chapel Street to James Street through to Summer 2021.
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.
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.
Another key element 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.
The project is critical to the £47m Liverpool City Centre Connectivity (LCCC) scheme which has already led to changes to Victoria Street, Dale Street, Brownlow Hill, City Bus Hub and the removal of the Churchill Way Flyover, and will also include a revamp of Lime Street and a new coach park.
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.
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.
The LCCC is 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.
Councillor Sharon Connor, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “We’re pleased with the progress so far on The Strand but next week is a real gear change and unfortunately this phase inevitably will cause traffic delays.
“We’re working with the contractors to ensure disruption is kept to an absolute minimum, but a road scheme of this scale in the heart of the city centre is both complex and intrusive.
“I hope people can plan their journey’s accordingly over this period to allow the contractor to complete the works as efficiently as possible.
“And for this short term pain there will be significant long term gain as the redesign of The Strand is going to make Liverpool city centre safer, cleaner and greener – for everyone to enjoy.”
Councillor Connor also added that The Strand’s safety record was appalling and needed to be adressed.
She continued: “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 year.
“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.”
Simon O’Brien, Liverpool’s Cycling Commissioner, said: “Liverpool city centre is changing for the better. The improvements to The Strand, reducing traffic, more space for pedestrians and especially the new top quality cycle lanes are immense. It will do so much to reconnect our World famous waterfront with the rest of town.
“Another vital link in the chain and a further sign that our city is heading in the right direction, catching up with other forward thinking cities around the world.”