runcorn naat

(page written 26 May 2009)


domino This is a bit that the Cheshire Cat chewed up so it never got into the book.

Pieces at the start of the game

The Runcorn - Widnes bridge which is congested at peak periods or when there is an accident or roadworks.

The bridge users who are mainly coming from or going to an area to the west of the bridge and for whom the natural line for a second bridge that would avoid residential areas is to extend the Knowsley Expressway over to the M56.

The people of Halton.

Halton Council which took over the existing bridge from Cheshire in 1998, and who's main aim in life seems to be to get another bridge.

The Government who don't want to spend any money on roads and bridges, who would like to get even more taxes from drivers, who want to protect the Mersey Tunnels tolls regime, and who have various other interests whispering in their ear.

An army of other players - public authorities, quangos, companies, consultants, news media.

The Game

dominoFirst move from Halton Council -
"We would like a new bridge to remove a bottleneck, improve communication between Widnes and Runcorn, and boost the economy of Halton and the wider area."

dominoSecond move from the Government -
"We need all the money we can get for wars and MP's expenses and bailing out our friends, so you can't have a bridge, unless it is privately financed and tolled."

dominoThird move from Halton Council -
"What a great idea. But if we do that then no one will use our nice new bridge, because drivers are perverse and they will continue to use the existing bridge despite the congestion."

dominoFourth move from the Government -
"Well, toll both bridges."

dominoFifth move from Halton Council - "What, an even better idea!! But the approaches to and exits from the existing bridge are not suitable for tolling. If we do toll it anyway then there will be massive queues at the toll barriers."

dominoSixth move from the Government -
"Well close the existing bridge, or almost close it so that there are almost no vehicles going over it and you will be able to squeeze in a few toll booths somewhere. You can come up with some excuse like the bridge is falling down."

dominoSeventh move from the Council -
"But, over half of the traffic going over the existing bridge is through traffic and it goes down the peripheral expressways, whereas the new bridge is aligned with the middle of Runcorn and would have to go down the Central Expressway through the middle of the residential area. A lot of traffic would end up at Junction 11A which does not exist!"

dominoEighth move from the Government -
"That's easy, just turn the Central Expressway into a motorway, no one will notice. You can also tell them that they will get "discounts" (burst of laughter is heard) - though they will have little idea of how high the tolls might be or how low the discounts might be. You could also try the dodge of only allowing them discounts on the old bridge which means that people will have to detour to get them and you can turn the whole of Runcorn into a dodgem ride."

dominoNinth move from the Council -
"Well, I suppose so, but our consultant fortune tellers have forecast that if we toll both bridges, there will actually be less traffic crossing the river than there is now and we will not get the economic and social benefits that we should have got from a new bridge."

dominoTenth move from the Government -
"This is even better than we hoped, you can tell everyone that that was the reason you were building the bridge in the first place - to stop people from crossing the river."

dominoEleventh move from the Council -
"Surely no one would fall for the idea of building a new bridge but saying that we want less people to cross the river?"

dominoTwelfth move from the Government -
"Most people will fall for anything, so make sure that you hire some good PR firms, and supply lots of pretty pictures to the newspapers."

dominoThirteenth move from the Council -
"Are you sure that they will fall for this?"

dominoFourteenth move from the Government -
"You would be amazed what you can get away with and we can spin this process out for so long that everyone gets used to the idea and believes that it is inevitable. In the meantime we can double the cost of building a bridge."

dominoFinal move from the Council -
"OK. But of course we will have to apply to you for permission to do all this."

dominoFinal move from the Government -

Back to top