BACKERS OF the £335M second Mersey crossing between Runcorn and Widnes received a boost this week when local MP and project supporter Derek Twigg was appointed junior transport minister.
Twigg has led the campaign for the crossing, dubbed the Mersey Gateway, and hosted a House of Commons reception supporting the scheme in December 2004.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is expected to make a funding decision on the crossing within months.
Twigg was re-elected MP for Halton, Merseyside, earlier this month. The Borough of Halton in Cheshire is made up of two towns - Runcorn and Widnes - and is split by the River Mersey.
Runcorn and Widnes are joined by the congested Silver Jubilee Bridge, which crosses the river between the Mersey Tunnels in Liverpool and Warrington (NCE 19 February 2004).
Halton council leader Tony McDermott said: 'This is excellent news. Derek is an excellent MP and he should be a wonderful voice for us in government.' Twigg's offi ial remit is rail and he replaces Tony McNulty.
His main role will be seeing the Crossrail Bill through parliament.
Twigg was parliamentary vate secretary to Stephen Byers between 2001 and 2002, when the latter was transport secretary. Twigg was involved with the controversial plan to take Railtrack into administration in 2002.
The new roads minister is Stephen Ladyman, replacing David Jamieson. He also takes on shipping and ports.
Karen Buck takes on viation, London, local transport includ ing local transport plans and traffic management. She replaces Charlotte Atkins and is the DfT's Green Minister.