AT LAST! Poole’s long-awaited Twin Sails Bridge became a reality as a crucial £14.1 million government grant was finally confirmed on Friday.

The funding marks the final piece of the jigsaw for the much-vaunted scheme, which the council hopes will regenerate and revitalise the town.

Work is due to start in early summer and the second harbour crossing should be ready to open in early 2012.

Cllr Brian Leverett, leader of Poole council, said it was a historic day for the town.

“It marks the culmination of many years of hard work,” he said. “The world-class bridge is a symbol of our ambition for the town.”

A failure to secure the government grant could have scuppered the bridge, so the delay in the Department of Transport’s announcement had been a nerve-wracking one.

It is hoped the ambitious scheme will now prove the catalyst for £600 million of development, creating 2,000 homes, 5,000 jobs and a new waterfront area.

Poole MP Robert Syms said he was “delighted” the project could move forward, while Annette Brooke, MP for Mid-Dorset & Poole North, said it was “important” news for the town.

A contractor for the work was approved earlier this year, but cannot yet be named.

The only potential banana skin for the scheme now is if other bidders object to the tendering process.

Cllr Ron Parker, Poole council’s cabinet member for the economy, said the details would be finalised in the “next few weeks”.

Poole has sought a second harbour crossing for more than 30 years.

Cllr Mike Brooke, leader of Poole’s Liberal Democrat group, said the Twin Sails bridge would “open up great opportunities” for the town.

• See Saturday’s Daily Echo for more on this story…