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Mersey Gateway bridge gets roads minister's support

Halton Borough Council has received a boost in its bid to build a new bridge over the River Mersey with approval from new roads minister Paul Clark MP.

Mr Clark and the Department for Transport have reconfirmed that the project meets its strict value for money criteria and is still in line to receive over £200 million of Government support to help fund its construction cost and to keep toll levels minimal.

In responding to the revised proposal from Government the Mersey Gateway Executive Board has agreed that the simplified funding conditions drawn up are acceptable to Halton.

The board also endorsed the Statement of Case - which outlines the reasons for developing the new bridge - submitted by the project team to the planning inspectorate.

The cost of the project is £431 million, with the Department for Transport’s funding £86 million in grants and a further £123 million in Private Finance Initiative credits.

The remainder of the funding will be invested by the private sector company that will be appointed to build and operate the bridge. It will then recoup this money through tolls and charges paid by people crossing the new bridge and the Silver Jubilee Bridge.

Halton Borough Council leader and chair of the Mersey Gateway Executive Board Cllr Tony McDermott said: “This is an important step as it means the government has looked carefully at our detailed plans and is still happy that the proposals are good value for money and meet all the necessary financial targets.

“Major projects like the are complicated and take time to deliver, but we are still on track to start building in 2011 and open the new bridge to the public in 2014.”