Plans to create a second bridge across the Mersey, linking Runcorn and Widnes, have taken another major step after councillors in Halton gave the scheme their backing.
At a special hearing last night to consider plans for the £390m Mersey Gateway project, councillors examined two planning applications – one outlining major alterations to the road networks in the towns and another for listed consent to change the road layout and traffic flow on the Silver Jubilee Bridge once the new Mersey Gateway is in place.
The councillors' decision to approve the scheme means the Mersey Gateway project can now go forward to the Secretary of State without objection, although the size and relevance of the project means that a public inquiry is expected.
The scheme would also see new leisure, housing, and office premises built in Widnes and Runcorn to regenerate parts of the towns. Large areas of land would be cleared and compulsory purchase orders would be used to buy land along the route so that the project could go ahead.
If all plans are eventually approved, the new toll bridge should open in 2014.