Liverpool's missing canal link on brink of completion
Apr 16 2008 by Ben Schofield, Liverpool Daily Post

BRITAIN’S first new canal for more than a century will be finished within a month. As thisstunning picture shows, the channel of the £21m Liverpool Canal Link has already been carved through the city’s waterfront.

Engineers are now laying slabs of reinforced concrete on its base and sides to make it watertight.

British Waterways said yesterday this part of the work should be completed in three to four weeks.

Once the structure is complete, workers will then concentrate on the “public realm” aspects of the project – including towpaths, benches and landscaping the banks – with full completion due by December.

The 2.2 kilometre extension of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal will connect the Stanley and Trafalgar docks at the northern end of the waterfront with Canning dock to the south of the city centre.

But the channel will be kept sealed off and dry until neighbouring construction sites are deemed safe enough to allow boats to pass underneath. Clay dams will keep water out of the channel until then.

Richard Longton, British Waterways’s project manager, hopes the canal will open to boating traffic by spring 2009: he anticipates between 10 and 15 boats will use it each day.

Mr Longton said: “The canal structure will be completed in the next three or four weeks.

“The channels have all been dug. We’re now laying a concrete base and two concrete walls.

“If you are going through a rural setting, you could just excavate a channel. But because we are going through an urban environment it has to be water retaining to protect the buildings.”

The canal is wide enough for broad beam boats rather than just two metre wide narrow boats.

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Mr Longton added: “It’s meant to be a catalyst for the rest of the public realm. It’s slightly bigger than what’s needed, but to put a piddly little canal in the waterfront just wouldn’t look right in the setting.”

For the first time in more than a century, canal boats will be able to navigate the 127-mile Leeds-Liverpool Canal straight into the heart of the Albert Dock system.

Funding for the new waterway has come from the Northwest Regional Development Agency, Merseyside Objective 1 programme (European Regional Development Fund), English Partnerships, Peel Holdings and British Waterways.