Peel Ports has launched a four-week public consultation on its Sustainable Investment Plan for the toll bridge, which aims to upgrade the bridge and approach roads, introduce an automated tolling system, reduce queues and delays and restrict unsuitable vehicles.
Under the plans, funding for the improvements would be raised through an increase in tolls for use of the bridge. This could see tolls increasing from 12p per trip, to £1 a trip (or 50p per trip for people who live locally).
While the council welcomes any proposals to invest in the bridge, it is against the costs of these improvements being passed on to local motorists, and is providing a formal response to the consultation to state its firm opposition to any increase in tolls.
Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for transportation, highways and public realm, Cllr Hans Mundry, said: “We acknowledge that a significant upgrade of Warburton & Rixton Toll Bridge, to bring it into the 21st century, has been needed for some time. At the same time, it’s clear that the cash only, toll booth payment method needs to be updated. It is an archaic system which causes queues and delays and brings major frustration to many, many motorists.
“Any proposals to invest in the future of the bridge are to be welcomed. However, it is completely unacceptable that motorists should have to bear the brunt of these costs. We are extremely concerned by these toll increase proposals, which could see bridge users paying up to eight times more per trip than the current charge.
“Some years ago, the government committed to free tolls for local residents who regularly use the Mersey Gateway bridge – now we find that potentially local residents will have to also pay an astronomic toll to cross the Warburton bridge.
“This is a substantial increase, which would have a real financial impact on motorists, particularly those who need to use the bridge regularly to get to work or visit family. We absolutely cannot support this, and that’s why we are writing to Peel Ports to state our strong opposition, and to urge them to reconsider their proposals. We urge you to also share your views and concerns.”
You can have your say by taking part in the consultation on the Warburton Toll Bridge website