BUSINESS leaders, politicians and the media will gather for breakfast on St George's Day to find out how far the Mersey Crossing Group has come in the challenge of securing a new crossing for the River Mersey.
The Group organised a special breakfast briefing tomorrow for all those with an interest in the new Mersey crossing.
The briefing, to be held at the Liverpool Marriott Hotel South, near Liverpool John Lennon Airport, will provide an update on the £335m bid to build a new crossing over the Mersey between Widnes and Runcorn.
Issues to be covered include the Government's response to the bid, the growing economic case for a new crossing, the impact it will have and future steps.
Following the decision by the Government in December to award the new Mersey crossing bid 'Super Work in Progress' status, detailed discussions took place earlier this year between the Department of Transport and the Mersey Crossing Group.
The Group agreed to carry out further studies in a number of areas, including environmental assessments, impact on the wider traffic network and while the Group still supports an untolled crossing, the feasibility of tolling. Those attending the breakfast briefing will be given the latest update on these studies.
Councillor Tony McDermott, chairman of the Mersey Crossing Group and leader of Halton Borough Council, said: 'During the last 12 months the Mersey Crossing Group has worked tirelessly to turn the vision of a new crossing for the River Mersey into a reality.
'Achieving Super Work in Progress status was a major step forward for the bid but there is still a lot of work to do.
'A new crossing remains one of the most critical issues for our region today.'
The proposed bridge will run from the Central Expressway in Runcorn to the Eastern Bypass in Widnes and ultimately Speke Road, and is a quarter of a mile to the east of the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge. At a cost of £335m, the preferred route attracts over 90% of traffic from the current bridge.
The new crossing will be a two-lane dual carriageway with hard shoulders enabling widening in the future to dual three lane allowing for traffic growth. The initial design provides a two-tier structure which could be used to facilitate public transport, walking and cycling separately from other vehicular traffic.
If the scheme is given the go ahead work on the bridge could start by 2006 with completion within three years.