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The Mersey Tunnel refuge
Tunnel Emergency Refuges
By Paul Coslett
Queensway tunnel now has seven emergency refuges to accomodate motorists in the event of an emergency.
The Queensway Tunnel was opened in 1934.
The 2.23 mile long tunnel carries over 11 million vehicles each year.
21,000 concrete blocks were used in the construction of the refuges.
A 45 metre long tunnel was bored through sandstone at the Birkenhead end of the tunnel to provide access to an emergency staircase leading to the surface at Shore Road.
Seven emergency refuges have been built in the Queensway Tunnel as part of a nine million pound safety project. The construction of the refuges, each capable of accommodating 180 people, brings the Liverpool to Birkenhead tunnel in line with the highest European standards.
Inside one of the refuges
The refuges have all been built below the roadway and are reached through highly visible access points in the tunnel walls. Each refuge is 21 metres long and three metres wide with fire resistant doors and ramps suitable for wheel chair access. A supply of bottled water and a toilet is provided in each refuge with all seven linked by walkways under the road surface.
In the event of an emergency, motorists will be directed to the closest refuge via a public address system and by directional noise beacons and flashing arrows. Once inside the refuges motorists can communicate via a video link with the Mersey Tunnels police control room.
The refuges can accommodate people for a period of time until tunnel staff or emergency services guide them either back to their vehicles or under the tunnel to exits at the Liverpool or Birkenhead ends.
A corridor leads to the refuge
Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel, said “In the event of an emergency we’ve go very secure ways of getting people from the road deck to somewhere safe, and then we can get them away safely. There’s no doubt it’s a cost worth doing, you can’t put a price on people’s safety.”
Construction work started in April 2004, all of the material, plant and equipment needed for the refuges had to pass through a 2 metre x 2 metre opening in the tunnel road surface. The majority of work was carried out with night time lane closures in operation with live traffic passing in two open lanes.
last updated: 01/04/2008 at 13:49