Posted: Thu 11th Aug 2022

Night time closure on M53 this weekend as 18 metre high furnace is delivered to Stanlow

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Aug 11th, 2022

A section of the M53 around Ellesmere Port will be closed in both directions this weekend – on Saturday night into Sunday morning – for the movement of a massive load. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The main module of the UK’s first hydrogen-ready furnace is being delivered to Essar Oil UK’s Stanlow refinery near Ellesmere Port. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The refinery is located on the south bank of the River Mersey, flanked on its west by the M53 and M56 to the south. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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The largest single ‘module’ for the new furnace is 26.5 metres long, 18.5 metres tall, and 14.2 metres wide. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

That’s almost five times higher than a double decker bus and six times wider than a motorway gritter. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

And the last leg of its 6,000 mile – and mostly watery – journey will be along the strictly terra firma of the M53 motorway and A5117 local road. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

After arriving by ship from Thailand to the Port of Liverpool in June it was transferred to a barge for the short trip across the River Mersey, through the locks into the Manchester Ship Canal and onto a holding bay near National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

On Saturday (13 August) it will be moved away from the canal a few hundred yards onto the neighbouring M53 via the southbound entry slip road at junction 8. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Straddling both the northbound and southbound carriageways the module will then be slowly and carefully moved at walking pace some three miles onto Essar Oil UK’s Stanlow site, exiting the M53 at junction 10 and travelling along the A5117 local road. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

To help with the delivery, the M53 will be closed for the night. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Gordon Beattie, National Highways abnormal loads manager for the North West said: “There are abnormal loads and there are abnormal loads – and this one will completely fill the motorway.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The module will be mounted on two wheeled platforms – one on each carriageway – and will look a bit like the bridge of a container ship gliding down the motorway.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“This has been a huge logistical challenge for everyone involved but we’ll be closing the motorway at a time when traffic is at its lightest and a very good diversion will be in place.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Stewart Prentice, Head of Projects, at Essar said: “We would like to thank National Highways for their support in this mammoth task, especially in facilitating closure of the M53 as our new furnace travels on its final leg to Stanlow.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The new furnace is one of the largest objects ever to be moved on UK roads and key to Essar’s strategy of transitioning to being a low carbon energy provider at the forefront of decarbonisation in the North West.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Full details of the overnight motorway closure. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The southbound carriageway will be closed between junction 5 at Hooton and junction 10 for Cheshire Oaks from 7pm on Saturday 13 August until 10am on Sunday 14 August. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The northbound carriageway will be closed between junction 10 and junction 8 with the closure time on the Saturday evening after 7pm and subject to an appropriate reduction in traffic levels from Cheshire Oaks. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

A diversion using the A550 and A494 trunks will operate between junction 5 and junction 11 at Stoak Interchange where the M53 meets the M56. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

As part of the work to accommodate the abnormal load, National Highways says it will need to remove and restore a number of lighting columns and matrix signs from the central reservation, boundary fencing and safety barrier from the verge, some safety barrier from the central reservation and a number of signs. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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