ANOTHER bridge could be built over the Manchester Ship Canal to improve connectivity between south Warrington and the town centre.

The two major highway schemes proposed in the draft local transport plan, LTP4, are the Western Link and garden suburb strategic link in Warrington South.

The £212 million Western Link, which will provide a crossing over the Ship Canal, could be open by 2025.

But analysis carried out by the council suggests that connectivity between south Warrington and the town centre needs to be improved in the long term – with officers believing that the controversial bypass alone will not be able to solve the issue.

The authority has committed to undertake further study work into what form of additional crossing is required, where exactly it should be located and which modes of travel it should be intended for.

Commenting on the connectivity problems, a council spokesman said: “The proposed concept for a mass transit network seeks to start to address this and is expected to include some form of new crossing to connect a fast, frequent, high-quality public transport service to the garden suburb and deliver the modal shift aspirations set out in the draft LTP4.

“We have also set out a commitment to carry out study work in the first five years following adoption of the LTP4 to help determine the need for, form of and location of any additional crossing, or crossings, required and the mode of transport this should cater for.

“Until this work is carried out, we are unable to identify when any additional crossing of the Manchester Ship Canal would be delivered by.

“If this study work confirms that a further crossing is needed, then a business case would need to be prepared which will be subject to extensive public consultation, as has happened with the Western Link.”

Cllr Bob Barr, leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, believes Warrington is ‘seriously constrained by the lack of adequate’ Ship Canal and Mersey crossings.

He says the Western link can help but only if its capacity is not taken up by traffic generated by new developments.

“It is inevitable that further or improved crossings will have to be considered in the future, either for general traffic, or for buses and, possibly, trams or rail,” he added.

“The swing bridges will also need to be brought up to modern standards to minimise the disruption they cause.

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“It is right for the council to consider the options, however, this needs to be done openly and transparently, minimising planning blight and keeping residents informed.”