EXCITEMENT is mounting as the new Mersey Gateway is set to open this weekend.

A spectacular fireworks display will light up the iconic bridge hours before the first vehicles drive over the six-lane tolled crossing for the first time – at around midnight.

Bridge builder Merseylink is still unable to confirm the exact opening date but the World understands it will be Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

A riverside fireworks and laser show will start at around 8pm.

Spectators can watch from West Bank in Widnes and Mersey Road in Runcorn.

The Silver Jubilee bridge will close for a major overhaul and essential repairs as the Mersey Gateway opens.

Around 1,200 people are working every day as finishing touches and checks are carried out on the 1,000 metre structure and network of new roads.

Bad weather and rain has hampered progress during the past few weeks but the bridge is expected to open on time and in budget.

After almost four years of disruption, diversions and delays, it is just days away from completion.

Halton Council leader Cllr Rob Polhill said: "It has been a long, hard struggle.

"We have been waiting and campaigning for this bridge for two decades.

"A lot of people didn’t think we’d get there but we pursued this project relentlessly. Halton never gave up.

"It is testimony to all the people who have supported us that we have achieved this incredible feat of engineering on time and in budget."

A community day on the Saturday after the opening will give people a chance to cross the bridge in free buses.

"It will be a joyous occasion to see such a magnificent structure," said Cllr Polhill.

"This bridge gives us the reliability of connectivity and has already attracted inward investment.

"For such a small authority to deliver this colossal project is quite an achievement."

A new look road system stretching across Widnes and Runcorn comes into operation when the bridge opens.

Around nine kilometres of road improvements and new junctions have been created from the M56 at junction 12 to the Widnes Eastern Bypass and Speke Road towards Liverpool.

Drivers are being warned to be vigilant as there are some changes to priorities and junction layouts.

Hugh O'Connor, general manager of Merseylink, said: "Many of the new junctions along the route like Lodge Lane, Widnes Loops and Bridgewater are major engineering projects in themselves.

"Delivering all of these together across a nine kilometre route is a huge achievement and we’re busy putting the final touches to the route so everything is ready to open at the same time."

The new bridge will have a 60mph speed limit and no toll booths.

Instead cameras and sensors will read vehicle number plates.

Eligible Halton residents can cross free once they pay a £10 annual registration fee.

Anyone, wherever they live, can also register for a pre-pay account or monthly pass which both give discounts on the full unregistered toll fee.

To register visit merseyflow.co.uk, call 01928 878878 or visit the walk in centre at Howard Court, Manor Park, Runcorn.