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The Liverpool Canal Link is a £22m waterway link that connects the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, at Liverpool, to the South Docks. The new link adds 1.4 miles (2.3 km) of navigable waterway to the canal system.
It was always intended that the Leeds & Liverpool Canal would be linked to the docks in Liverpool.
It was only in 1846, 30 years after the canal's completion, that the canal was directly linked to the docks via the Stanley Dock Branch.
Georges Dock was filled in at the beginning of the 20th Century to allow the building of the Liver Building, Cunard Building and the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Building, the Three Graces.
This meant the North and South Docks were no longer directly linked. Boats wishing to travel from the North Docks to the South Docks had to go via the River Mersey.
By 2000 there were several new canal projects such as the renovation of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, the Ribble Link and Rochdale Canal. The Waterways Regeneration Task Force, part of British Waterways took over the South Docks from English Partnerships. The Task Force approached the Liverpool City Council's Liverpool City Vision with the suggestion of linking the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to the South Docks by building a new waterway across Pier Head.
Four routes were proposed and after public consultation in 2001 a route was chosen. The winning route was across the front of the Three Graces at the Pier Head. Feasibility work was funded by the North West Regional Development Agency, British Waterways Regeneration Task Force and a detailed proposal drawn up during 2003.
Funding for the work came from the NWRDA, (50%) with the rest coming from Europe via the ERDF Objective 1 programme.
The original estimate was £17 million. After some changes to the plans following the failed Fourth Grace project and objections by English Heritage a new plan was drawn up by March 2005 which took account of the new Museum of Liverpool. Planning permission was applied for in August 2005 and granted in early 2006.
The chosen route includes two new locks, open channels, tunnels and culverts. Two new highway bridges were built, as well as flow control structures and utility diversions.
The docks between Salisbury Dock and Princes Half Tide Dock had been filled in with just a small drainage channel remaining. Following dredging in the 1990s this section was in water and navigable. Further dredging took place at the northern edge of the Trafalgar Dock infill.
Between Trafalgar Dock and the Princes Half Tide Dock a 21-foot (6.4 m) wide channel through Trafalgar Dock and the northern end of West Waterloo Dock was built, with a new crossing at the dock passage between Trafalgar and West Waterloo Dock.
The channel from West Waterloo Dock to Princess Dock was dredged and the level of the docks reduced.
From the northern end of Prince's Dock through to the start of the Pier Head area a new fixed bridge and lock was built at Princes Dock. Prince's Dock Footbridge has been raised to allow boats to pass underneath and the bridge approaches have been landscaped.
A new culvert across land known as Plot 7 was built along with another new culvert beneath St. Nicholas Place and the new Cruise Liner Facility.
The final section of the canal link commences south of the Floating Roadway Basin, crosses the Pier Head and terminates at Canning Dock. 500 metres (550 yd) of new canal was built along with associated bridge crossings and a lock structure. A new basin was built at Mann Island along with extensive landscaping for the general public.
The canal link was completed in December 2008 with the Pier Head section finished earlier in September. After a period of testing and commissioning the canal link opened on 25 March 2009.