THE new Mersey Gateway is set to open on Saturday.

The bridge will be open to traffic just after midnight on the morning of Saturday 14th October.

We exclusively revealed the bridge would be opening this weekend earlier this week.

The plan is, weather depending, to have the bridge lit up with a spectacular light show and fireworks display on Friday, a few hours before it opens to traffic.

Spectators can watch from West Bank in Widnes and Mersey Road in Runcorn.

The Silver Jubilee bridge will close for a major overhaul and essential repairs as the Mersey Gateway opens.

Around 1,200 people are working every day as finishing touches and checks are carried out on the 1,000 metre structure and network of new roads.

After almost four years of disruption, diversions and delays, it is just days away from completion.

Halton Council leader Cllr Rob Polhill said: “It has been a long, hard struggle.

“We have been waiting and campaigning for this bridge for two decades.

“A lot of people didn’t think we’d get there but we pursued this project relentlessly. Halton never gave up.

“It is testimony to all the people who have supported us that we have achieved this incredible feat of engineering on time and in budget.”

A community day on the Saturday after the opening will give people a chance to cross the bridge in free buses.

“It will be a joyous occasion to see such a magnificent structure,” said Cllr Polhill.

“This bridge gives us the reliability of connectivity and has already attracted inward investment.

“For such a small authority to deliver this colossal project is quite an achievement.”

A new look road system stretching across Widnes and Runcorn comes into operation when the bridge opens.

Around nine kilometres of road improvements and new junctions have been created from the M56 at junction 12 to the Widnes Eastern Bypass and Speke Road towards Liverpool.

Drivers are being warned to be vigilant as there are some changes to priorities and junction layouts.

Hugh O’Connor, general manager of Merseylink, said: “Many of the new junctions along the route like Lodge Lane, Widnes Loops and Bridgewater are major engineering projects in themselves.

“Delivering all of these together across a nine kilometre route is a huge achievement and we’re busy putting the final touches to the route so everything is ready to open at the same time.”

The new bridge will have a 60mph speed limit and no toll booths.

Instead cameras and sensors will read vehicle number plates.

Eligible Halton residents can cross free once they pay a £10 annual registration fee.

Anyone, wherever they live, can also register for a pre-pay account or monthly pass which both give discounts on the full unregistered toll fee.

To register visit, call 01928 878878 or visit the walk in centre at Howard Court, Manor Park, Runcorn.

What happens when the new bridge opens?

Halton Borough Council, the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board and Merseylink are organising a special fireworks display to celebrate the opening, weather permitting.

The public viewing location are Spike Island in Widnes and Mersey Road in Runcorn.

8:30pm            Light show begins

8:45pm            Spectacular fireworks display

9:05pm            Event ends - limited edition Mersey Gateway merchandise will be sold at both locations with all profits going to the Mayor’s charities.

Just before the new bridge opens just after midnight, on the morning of Saturday 14th October, the Silver Jubilee Bridge, which has been open since July 1961, will close for in the region of 12 months for refurbishments.

The new and improved link roads connecting the new bridge to the M56 and the main route towards Liverpool and the M62 will also open at the same time.

Once the bridge opens, tolls will be enforced immediately. Dedicated cameras and sensors will read vehicle number plates and special merseyflow stickers to charge drivers.

Anyone who doesn’t pay by 11:59pm the day after they cross will receive a penalty charge notice.