A spectacular fireworks display will mark the long-awaited opening of the Mersey Gateway Bridge.
The six-lane bridge, which links Widnes and Runcorn, will open just after midnight on Saturday (October 14).
To mark the occasion, there will be a light and fireworks display at 8.30pm on Friday (October 13). Organisers are advising people to view it from one of two official viewing areas – Mersey Road (in front of Churchill Hall), Runcorn, and Spike Island (in front of the Catalyst Museum), Widnes.
Halton Borough Council leader Cllr Rob Polhill said: “We hope that the public will come out to enjoy the fireworks and see our magnificent new bridge lit up. I’m tremendously proud of what has been achieved by delivering this iconic new bridge on time and within budget and hope that the night will be a real celebration.”
The new bridge will not be free to cross. Tolls will be enforced by dedicated cameras on the toll gantry, scanning vehicle number plates and special merseyflow stickers.
Only people living in Halton are eligible for unlimited ‘free’ crossings (in exchange for a £10 annual fee). Those living further afield, including in Cheshire West, must pay but discounts for regular users are available. So far more than 82,000 vehicles have been registered for discounts, and people can still register after the new bridge is open.
You can register with merseyflow online (www.merseyflow.co.uk) or by calling 01928 878878.
If you don’t register with merseyflow and cross the new bridge, you will need to pay the full toll rate by 11:59pm the day after you travel, or face a penalty charge notice of up to £60. The unregistered toll rates are: £2 per trip for cars, £6 per trip for light goods vehicles and £8 per trip for heavy goods vehicles. Motorbikes and local buses are not subject to tolls.
The opening this weekend is the culmination of more than three-and-a-half years of construction work, with the new bridge being the iconic centrepiece of the huge project. A series of major new junctions now run through Runcorn and Widnes.
Just before the new bridge opens just after midnight, the Silver Jubilee Bridge, which has been open since July 1961, will close for about 12 months for refurbishments. Once it reopens, it will also be tolled.
The new and improved link roads connecting the new bridge to the M56 and the main route towards Liverpool and the M62 will also open at the same time as the new bridge this weekend.
See full story in the Chester Leader