The £600m, 1,000-metre long Mersey Gateway bridge will open to traffic in the early hours of Saturday 14 October, depending on weather, with tolls starting immediately.
The bridge is the centrepiece of the Mersey Gateway project, which covers around nine kilometres of road works and a series of major new junctions running throughout Runcorn and Widnes, linking Widnes directly with the M56.
The project has been built by a consortium of FCC Construcción, Kier Infrastructure, and Samsung C&T Corporation, and its equity partners are BBGI, FCC, and Macquarie Capital Group.
So far more than 82,000 vehicles have been registered for discount on the tolls, and motorists are still able to register after the new bridge opens. Motorists can also pay for one-off crossings in advance.
The bridge is operating a discount scheme for Halton residents, and anyone who is eligible for the scheme is required to register and pay their £10 annual fee in order to claim free trips.
Merseyflow, which is operated by Emovis, uses a simple windscreen sticker system. As soon as the bridge opens, the tolls will be enforced by cameras on the toll gantry which will scan vehicle number plates and windscreen stickers.
Motorists who have not registered with Merseyflow and cross the new bridge will need to pay the full toll rate of £2 for cars, £6 for light goods vehicles, and £8 for heavy goods vehicles by 11:59pm on the day of travel, or face a fine of up to £60. Motorbikes and local buses are not subject to the toll.
Hugh O’Connor, general manager at Merseylink, said: “Over the past three-and-a-half years the Merseylink team has transformed the Halton Borough landscape, designing and constructing the magnificent cable stay bridge, over nine km of new roads, seven junctions and 12 new bridges and associated highway signal and control systems.
“While the Mersey Gateway Bridge itself has always been our centrepiece, this project is about much more than just a bridge and the complexity and scale of the engineering challenge has reflected that.
“We’re opening on time and on budget and I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the staff, workers and volunteers who have worked so hard to make that happen and also say a big thank you to Halton residents and commuters for their interest, support and patience over the past three and a half years.”
David Parr, chief executive of Halton Council and the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board, said: “After a lot of hard work the bridge is nearly ready to open.
“It will provide quicker and easier trips for people travelling through Halton and the wider north west region, getting commuters to work quicker, improving business reliability and allowing families to enjoy the area without facing unpredictable delays.”
Following the bridge’s opening, the Silver Jubilee Bridge will be closed to road traffic for refurbishment, although it will remain open to pedestrians and cyclists.
A fireworks display will also take place at the Gateway tomorrow to celebrate the opening. It is due to start from 8.30pm to signal the countdown before the first car crosses the bridge.