When the first Runcorn bridge opened in 1961 (renamed the Silver Jubilee Bridge in 1977), it replaced the Widnes–Runcorn Transporter Bridge, a 19th-century steam-powered cable-truss transporter that carried four cars in 2½ minutes across the Mersey between Runcorn and Widnes. The replacement crossing was designed to carry 8,000 vehicles per day; however, 50 years later more than 80,000 vehicles were using the through arch bridge and surrounding road network daily, ten times its expected capacity. A new crossing was therefore deemed both vital and necessary by Halton Borough Council. Moreover it believed "better connectivity, more consistent journey times and improved accessibility, combined with a much improved physical urban environment would make Halton a better place to live and work, and invest".
In 2001 Ramboll was appointed the lead technical consultant on the project. It worked as part of a technical advisor team composed of CH2M, Ramboll, IBI and Knight Architects, to support the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board with the technical and contractual administration of the project and to help it fulfil its contractual obligations.
In June 2010, the project was put on hold awaiting the outcome of the Treasury's Spending Review. In October 2010 it was confirmed by Chancellor George Osborne that the £431m plan would go ahead. During the 2014 Budget, Osborne announced a £270m guarantee for the project.