THE new Mersey Gateway could open in two weeks if the weather allows final work to be completed, bridge builders Merseylink have announced.

It is confident the project will open on time and within budget.

But as plans for a celebration fireworks display are finalised, Widnes bus passengers who cross the river or travel towards Liverpool have discovered they could be left marooned.

The Silver Jubilee bridge will close for 12 months for major repairs when the new crossing opens.

Bus operator Arriva has confirmed it will no longer serve West Bank as all its services which currently stop on the bridge at Irwell Street will be re-routed over the Mersey Gateway.

From Monday Halton Transport will provide extra daytime buses into West Bank but when the Silver Jubilee closes there will be no evening or Sunday service.

Halton Riverside Cllr Pamela Wallace, who lives in West Bank, said: “We are going to be totally isolated.

“This is a deprived area. Not everyone has a car. I am particularly concerned about the disabled and people who rely on buses for work.

“People can’t afford taxis. How are they going to manage?”

Outraged residents plan to stage a protest and mount a petition.

“West Bank people are up in arms,” said Cllr Wallace.

“I am totally behind them. You cannot cut off an area like this.

“I’m worried about youngsters like my grandchildren who will have to walk from town if they stay late for activities after school.

“This is not acceptable.”

A spokesman for Arriva said: “Unfortunately Arriva will no longer be able to service West Bank in Widnes.

"Due to ongoing works on the Mersey Gateway and the subsequent closure of the Silver Jubilee bridge we cannot confirm at this stage exactly when the planned services will come into effect.

“Once the Silver Jubilee bridge re-opens in 12 months time our buses will return to West Bank but we cannot confirm routes at this stage.”

From Monday, Halton Transport is extending service 14c to West Bank and confirmed that no buses will stop at Irwell Street when the new bridge opens.

Halton Council chief executive David Parr said: “We are currently liaising with Halton Transport and Arriva on bus routing. It is for each bus company, not the council, to determine what they consider to be commercial routes.

“However we are aware of the concerns of West Bank residents and are exploring solutions to maintain services into West Bank.”

The Mersey Gateway team will give a definitive date five days ahead of opening.

Hugh O’Connor, general manager of Merseylink, said: “All along we said we’d be opening in autumn 2017 and it is great to be able to keep that promise.

“We’ll update everyone with a firmer date as we get closer to opening but we’re confident that we will open by mid-October at the latest.

“Much of our final work is weather dependent but we will be able to give a definitive date around five days ahead of opening.”

A fireworks display from the new bridge will be seen from Spike Island in Widnes and Mersey Road in Runcorn.

Halton Council chief executive David Parr said: “This is such an exciting time for Halton.

“The new Mersey Gateway bridge is due to open very soon and we want to celebrate this fabulous new piece of infrastructure with all of our community.

“To those who have waited patiently for this bridge and the road users who have borne the burden of disruption during the last three and a half years while construction took place this is a thank you.”