Halton approves £30m savings plans to scrap toll booths for six-lane bridge

Plans to switch to “open” tolling for the £600m six-lane Mersey Gateway bridge project have been backed by Halton Borough Council as part of wider amendments to the scheme that are expected to save £30m.

The move means proposed toll booths for the new bridge between Runcorn and Widnes will be dropped from the plans.

Councillors also backed design modifications that would mean a future light rail scheme could not be accommodated and would need to be routed by the older Silver Jubilee Bridge.

They also supported design changes to the form and construction of the bridge deck, alterations to spacing and form of the bridge supports and the geometry of the cables that support sections of the bridge deck. Also, permission was granted to alter the selection of materials to be used for the bridge’s towers and decks.

Council leader Rob Polhil said the modifications were “not major changes” but improved the scheme at the same time as reducing the overall cost by around £30m.

“They will also allow us to work closely with the shortlisted bidders to allow them to innovate and deliver the best possible project that works for local residents, commuters, taxpayers and the public purse,” he said.

Work is due to begin on the bridge late next year, and is expected to take three years to complete.

The bridge is being procured as a public-private partnership project, and 70% of the project costs are expected to be funded by toll revenues.

The Department for Transport is to provide £86m in capital grant towards land and remediation and up to £14.55m per year in long-term revenue support for 26.5 years from opening to fund the scheme.