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Mersey Tunnel Refurbishment Fit For a Queen

Published: 27th January 2012 09:57

Following an 18 month, £7 million programme of improvements to the Queensway Tunnel, Merseytravel has unveiled a unique first - an impressive piece of public art, set within the famous tunnel.

Mersey Tunnel Refurbishment - official openingL-R- Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Moira McLaughlin
with Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Frank
Prendergast at the Wirral and Liverpool crests.

Queensway is the first road tunnel in Europe to incorporate public art in tunnel cladding and can now boast another record for the people of Merseyside - spectacular new interpretations of the Liverpool and Wirral skylines by local artist Alison Barker.

The 78 year old road tunnel has been given a 21st century makeover with new ceramic steel cladding throughout, enhancing the driving experience for customers and improving light reflectance.  The new cladding replaces the previous plastic coated corrugated wall cladding installed by Merseyside County Council in 1983, with a total of 5999 panels, including18 panels at either end displaying the artwork.

The light reflective panels provide enhanced lighting luminar of 14% which has extended the timeline for the tunnel lamp replacement from 7 to 8 years, reducing both financial and environmental cost.

Crests for both Wirral and Liverpool at the historic boundary have been updated to create a sharper, more contemporary, design and positioned either side of a separate panel representing the boundary line. 

Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel, which owns and operates both the Queensway and Kingsway tunnels, said: "When the Queensway Tunnel first opened in 1934 it was the longest tunnel of its type in the world and a true construction wonder. This flagship scheme has given us the chance to be first again, this time with the inclusion of artwork at each end of the tunnel."

Jim Barclay, Merseytravel interim Chief Executive and Director General added: "The tunnels are a vital part of our transport network and this  investment represents not only improved safety for the hundreds of thousands of customers who pass through the tunnel each week, by enhanced visibility, but also reduces the environmental impact of the tunnel operation."

Wirral Composition

Ali Barker with the Wirral composition

Depicts the major buildings, condensing the notable buildings from a long stretch of Wirral, but including Lady Lever Art Gallery, which isn't visible from Liverpool. The colour green, rather than representing one of the notes of the scale, is used to show the green landscape of Wirral seen from Liverpool. Below the buildings is a musical stave, overlaid with a flowing, repeating design of the leaf of the bog myrtle, the plant that in Anglo-Saxon times was widespread across the peninsula and gave Wirral its name.

Liverpool Composition

The Liverpool composition

Depicts the major buildings of the Liverpool cityscape, based on Alison Barker's photographs from Seacombe. The height of each building corresponds to a note on the musical stave, which in turn gives each building its colour from the artists own colour scale. The keyboard below alludes to the significance of music in both the design and in Liverpool life.

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