TRAFFIC surveys are to be carried out in Halton and its surrounding areas as preparations for the construction of a second road bridge gather pace.
The huge traffic study, which will cover areas including Warrington, Knowsley, St Helens and Wirral, was demanded by the Government as a condition of the £209m being allocated to the project by the Government's Department of Transport.
Checkpoints are being set up at locations which have not yet been revealed and survey staff are working in conjunction with police, asking drivers to fill out a questionnaire.
In other cases drivers will be handed forms they can fill out in their own time and send back by post.
A council spokeswoman said the selected locations for the surveys had been picked to cause minimum disruption.
But drivers are still warned to expect some delays.
The project involves asking motorists simple questions about their daily journey.
The overall finding will give Halton Council's transport planners their best picture yet of traffic flow in the region and enable an assessment of the benefits of a new bridge.
Steve Nicholson, Mersey Gateway project director, said: 'The surveys were requested by the Department for Transport and are an important part of the meticulous planning underway to ensure this project runs smoothly.
'Drivers who are asked to return a survey by post will be entered into a prize draw to win £500.'
News that the bridge cash bid was successful and that funding had been rubber stamped was announced in April after a series of delays.
It is thought that constructing a second bridge would relieve up to 80% of traffic from the Silver Jubilee Bridge.
Halton's Local Transport Plan has suggested that congestion charges on the current bridge would have to be considered if there was a delay or decision to scrap the new bridge.