Manchester

Cash row could hold up new £35m bridge opening in Salford

New bridge in Manchester
Image caption The project was delayed when part of the new bridge collapsed last year

A council claims it is being held to "ransom" in a row over maintenance costs which has delayed the opening of a new bridge.

Salford Council claims developer Peel Holdings is threatening to charge tolls for the new £35m lifting bridge, if it is to have to pay for maintenance.

Councillor Roger Jones said the suggestion of a toll was a "bombshell".

Peel Holdings did not comment about the toll when asked, but said it expected the council to pay for the maintenance.

"From the outset, it was Peel's understanding that Salford City Council had agreed that the entire road and bridge would be adopted and future maintenance would rest with them," it said in a statement, adding it was seeking a resolution with the council and expected the bridge to be open in the next month.

The bridge, next to the M60 in Barton, is part of a project to improve traffic which includes a new dual carriageway and new roundabout layouts at the motorway's junctions 10 and 11.

It links the Trafford Centre with the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford.

Mr Jones said Peel Holdings, which owns the bridge, had asked Salford and Trafford Councils to "pick up the liability costs in the future". But he said both councils had said "under no circumstances" would they pay for the bridge's maintenance.

"There's no way we could saddle the council tax payer with that liability," he said. "I think Peel are trying to hold us to ransom."

Image caption Peel Holdings said it understood Salford Council would be responsible for the bridge's maintenance

A spokesperson for Trafford Council said: "We are working closely with Salford Council on the future liability of the road and bridge and hope both will soon be open to the public."

Construction work was delayed in May 2016 when part of the bridge collapsed as it was being lowered into place, also causing damage to four support pillars.

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