Mersey Gateway Bridge wins Outstanding Structure Award 2019


The Mersey Gateway Bridge has been awarded the IABSE Outstanding Structure Award for 2019, the highest distinction awarded by the association.

Described by the judges as "an elegantly integrated solution for a multi-span concrete cable stay bridge in which form follows function" the COWI-designed Mersey Gateway Bridge provides a much-needed new crossing of the river and is acting as a catalyst for growth in the region.

The IABSE Outstanding Structure Award (OStrA) is one of the highest distinctions awarded by IABSE, recognising the most remarkable, innovative, creative, or otherwise stimulating structures. Respect of the environment is also an important factor.

COWI's Paul Sanders, also Project Director for the Design Joint Venture, commented:

"Everyone involved with the design and construction the Mersey Gateway Bridge over the past 6 years knows that this is an incredibly special structure. But to have this officially recognised with such a prestigious award from IABSE, especially given the fierce competition from around the globe, is incredible. I'm extremely proud of the role our team played in designing and delivering this outstanding project."

Minimising the environmental impact

The unique three-pylon cable-stayed bridge has pylons up to 125m high and is 2.250km long with a 1km long cable supported section. The main bridge deck is constructed from pre-stressed and reinforced concrete suspended from the pylons via high strength steel cable stays.

The decks of the approach viaducts were constructed using two 1700 tonne, 157m long self-propelled launching gantries (movable scaffolding systems) enabling rapid and safe construction of a complete 70m long span in a single pour.

On the cable-stayed bridge, six smaller gantries (form travellers) were used to cast the deck in 6m long segments in a typical cycle of just five days.

The design for the bridge was selected from a wide range of options to maximise benefits for users and the local community while minimising the environmental impact on the estuary and its surrounding environment.

The scheme was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen and the Duchess of Sussex in June 2018, at the culmination of three and a half years of construction work. Completed on time and under budget, the main crossing provides an iconic and landmark structure.

The Bigger Picture

The six-lane toll bridge over the river Mersey is part of a bigger project providing, delivering a new and improved 9.2km long link road connecting the national motorway network in north Cheshire with Merseyside.

Designed for rapid construction and minimal maintenance, the highlights of the scheme include a 3km long elevated route, including a 1000m long cable stayed bridge, 12 new highway bridges and 7 new or upgraded junctions along the route through Runcorn and Widnes. The main crossing over the Mersey required a range of foundation solutions incorporating shallow and deep foundations, while the approach highways dealt with a number of significant challenges arising from ground conditions and historic land use.

Positive Impact for the region

The Mersey Gateway Bridge allows quicker, easier and more reliable travel across the River Mersey in Halton and the North West region. Up to 76,000 vehicles cross the bridge per day, and average vehicle speeds of 58mph demonstrate improvements in journey time, with savings across the route typically in the order of 20 minutes or more.

The project is also a catalyst for positive change across Halton with job creation, community outreach and inward investment already being seen.

This is the first long span cable supported concrete bridge constructed in the UK, marking a significant advancement in the use of concrete for similar applications in the future. Not only has the bridge provided a vital new link within the region, but its positive impact will be felt for years to come, driving growth locally and regionally.


The mission of IABSE (The International Association of Bridges and Structural Engineering) is to exchange knowledge and to advance the practice of structural engineering worldwide in the service of the profession and society. To fulfil its mission, IABSE organises conferences and publishes a high quality journal, Structural Engineering International (SEI); publishes books reflecting the work of its Technical Groups; creates Task Groups, as required by new needs and technological progress; offers activities within National Groups of IABSE; supports Young Engineers with a programme, and presents annual Awards in recognition of outstanding achievements in structural engineering.

About the project

The Mersey Gateway Project was one of the largest infrastructure initiatives in the UK in recent years. It was identified as one of the UK government’s Top 40 priority projects in the National Infrastructure Plan and was recognised by KPMG as one of the ‘Top 100 infrastructure projects around the globe’.

Its features include:

  • a 1,000m long cable stay bridge consisting of four spans supported from three towers in the estuary;
  • a unique design where the 80m high central tower are shorter than the two outer towers, which are 110m (north tower) and 125m (south tower);
  • a total length (including the bridge and approach viaducts) of 2.13km;
  • a deck carrying six lanes of traffic (three in each direction) with a speed limit of 60mph;
  • 30 supporting piers carrying it across the approach viaducts; and
  • a curved approach at each end of the bridge giving varying views of its unique design and maximising its visual impact.

Project team

Owner: Halton Borough Council (Project Sponsor), Mersey Gateway Crossings Board Ltd (end Client), Merseylink Ltd (concession company)

Structural and Foundation Design: COWI & Fhecor (Highways and drainage by Aecom & Eptisa)

Contractor: Merseylink Civil Contractors Joint Venture (FCC Construccion – Kier Infrastructure & Overseas Limited – Samsung C&T Corporation)

Architect: Dissing + Weitling

You can find out more about the project at

Get in contact

Ligia Schuurman
Marketing & Communications Specialist
BTM, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 2079407600