A DRILLING rig is working in the Mersey Estuary off the coastline of Widnes to test bedrock in preparation for a second bridge crossing.
The council has employed contractors Seacore to use advanced equipment to test the strength of bedrock at various locations in the estuary.
The Weekly News has received several calls from residents who spotted the odd looking platform and assumed it was an oil rig.
But a spokesman for Seacore said it is a floating platform known as a 'Jack Up' used for survey work.
Named Skate One, the platform is floated out into position at high tide and hydraulic legs are extended and anchored firmly to the river bed.
The technique enables the platform to operate without being affected by rising and falling tides.
The platform has been drilling 50mm into the riverbed to give a profile of the soil and rock below.
And contractors using jet skis, hovercraft and quad bikes on the riverbank have been finding out about the waterflow characteristics of the estuary.
Aircraft have also been used to map land and buildings round the route of the proposed Mersey Gateway and its approaches.
Cllr Tony McDermott, leader of Halton Borough council, said: 'It is exciting to see this rig in place on the river as it is a visible sign that we are making progress to building the Mersey Gateway.
'This work is being carried out so we can be confident that the new crossing will have a minimal impact on the river and its wildlife.'