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Campaigners who blocked Trafford Centre traffic in protest over A57 bridge promise more direct action – Manchester Evening News

Campaigners fighting for the A57 lifting bridge to open have vowed more direct action after they blocked traffic at the Trafford Centre.

A group of Irlam and Cadishead residents took their protest to a roundabout outside the shopping mall at the weekend and last night warned developer Peel of further protests.

Irate drivers honked their horns as demonstrators blocked traffic for minutes.

The group was led by Alan Whitehead – who last week filmed himself driving over the yet-to-open £50m scheme.

The protesters have now warned their campaign will continue until developer Peel Land and Property ends the ‘two years of disruption’ caused by the construction of the road and bridge linking Trafford and Salford over the Manchester Ship Canal.

Peel have declined to give the Manchester Evening News a firm opening date for the bridge, which they say can only be confirmed when contractor Hochtief Buckingham formally ‘hands over’ the project.

Phil Hall, 42, a dad-of-four from Irlam, was a driving force of the protest on Saturday and said local businesses are suffering because of the delayed opening of the A57 bridge.

(Image: Billy McLaughlin)

He said: “We are planning more action and protests and we won’t stop until the bridge opens. We want it open for Christmas – to start the new year without these delays, to give our businesses a chance for 2018.”

The works connecting the A57 from the AJ Bell Stadium junction at Peel Green to the M60 via Trafford City are aimed at providing a new link and easing congestion. But during two years of construction, residents say it has made the 10-minute journey from Irlam to Eccles a one-hour ‘nightmare’ in rush-hour.

Phil says his Irlam-based printing business has been affected by the congestion.

Last week, Salford Mayor Paul Dennett branded the lack of an opening date ‘totally unacceptable’.

A Peel Land and Property spokesman said: “The roadworks and bridge have not yet been completed by our contractor. We are waiting for the contractor to complete the works and hand over the road and bridge so it is safe to use and operate for the public.”

He said the works were the contractor’s responsibility until they were handed over to Peel.

(Image: Billy McLaughlin)

The M.E.N. could not contact the contractors Hochtief yesterday, but in an earlier statement a spokesman said: “We understand that traffic management on this busy road inevitably causes disruption and we apologise for the inconvenience caused. The project is due to be fully completed by the end of the year.”

The 35-metre high bridge next to Barton Bridge on the M60 has been built to rise for vessels passing beneath.

It hit the headlines last year when a giant concrete platform collapsed during construction.

The works are linked to Peel’s plans to build Port Salford, a massive logistics hub both for Greater Manchester and the north alongside the ship canal.

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