The proposed cable stayed bridge across the Mersey between Runcorn and Widnes will now proceed to the Secretary of State and a possible public inquiry. It is hoped that construction will start on the bridge by 2011 and that it will open in 2014
Mersey Gateway Project Manager for Halton council Claire Hall said: "This project fits with local, regional and national planning criteria. We are confident that the detailed proposals that were before the council’s Development Control Committee will result in a stunning new bridge and a programme of improvement and regeneration for the borough that will bring benefits for local people, businesses and commuters for years to come."
The crossing will include:
a 1,000m long cable stay bridge consisting of four spans supported from three towers in the estuary; - a unique design where the 120m high central tower will be shorter than the two 140 metre high outer towers;
a total length (including the bridge and approach viaducts) of 2.13km;
a deck carrying six lanes of traffic (three in each direction) with a speed limit of 60mph;
a lower deck designed with space for a possible future tram or light rail system;
up to 30 supporting piers carrying it across the approach viaducts;
a curved approach at each end of the bridge giving varying views of its unique design and maximising its visual impact.
In addition to a new bridge, changes will be made to the existing Silver Jubilee bridge so that it will become dedicated to local traffic and provide better facilities for walking and cycling. Both bridges will be tolled
Further key decisions affecting the future of the project will come from the Department for Transport, which is due to consider the application and a series of associated legal orders in the next few months.