TRANSPORT NEWS: Mersey crossing campaign intensifies

Supporters of plans for a crossing over the River Mersey have launched an intensive lobbying and advertising campaign ahead of a forthcoming government decision on the scheme.

The £335 million crossing involves building a dual-level bridge across the Mersey between Widnes and Runcorn, making it one of the country's longest bridges.

The scheme is being overseen by the Mersey Crossing Group and a funding application has been submitted to the Department for Transport by Halton Borough Council.

The group has launched a campaign to support the scheme ahead of the department's decision on the bid, which is due to be announced next month.

The group says that the bridge, which could be open by 2008, will relieve congestion on the Silver Jubilee Bridge and will encourage the regeneration of Halton, Merseyside and the North West in general.

The preferred route for the crossing has been determined. The crossing will stretch from the Central Expressway in Runcorn, to Ditton roundabout.

"We've had a lot of support for the scheme, and we're quietly confident that it will be a positive decision," said a spokesman.

But Friends of the Earth said that the scheme is unlikely to cut congestion and does not meet local needs. "New roads fill up quickly and other options haven't been looked at," said campaign co-ordinator, Frank Kennedy.

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