Locals pay 12p Warburton Bridge tolls to ease 'horrendous' traffic
People living near a privately-owned toll bridge are paying its "archaic" fee for drivers to cut traffic jams.
Motorists using the Warburton Toll Bridge to cross the Manchester Ship Canal are charged 12p, which can only be paid by hand and in cash.
Local residents have prepaid up to £25 a day in drivers' tolls to reduce "horrendous" congestion, said the Warburton Toll Bridge Action Group.
Bridge owners Peel Ports said they are planning an automated payment system.
A spokeswoman for Trafford Council said they hope to meet with Peel Ports, the neighbouring Warrington Council and campaigners in January to discuss what can be done "in the immediate and shorter term".
A toll has been charged for more than 150 years since the bridge first opened in 1863. Currently, all vehicles wishing to cross are charged 12p, with a daily pass available for 25p.
Action group founder Mark Broadstock said some nights, it can take "over an hour to drive a few miles, which should take around five minutes".
"We would like Peel to remove the tolls in their entirety - they are archaic and not fit for purpose in today's fast-paced world."
One resident, who has asked to remain anonymous, said she had paid the tolls for up to a hundred drivers at a time, because she found "watching people sitting there, sometimes [for] up to two hours" upsetting.
Warburton Toll Bridge
- The bridge is the only route across the River Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal between the M6 and M60 motorways
- It links the villages of Rixton in Warrington, Cheshire, to the north, with Warburton in Trafford, Greater Manchester, to the south
- It was created after the passing of the Rixton and Warburton Toll Bridge Act 1863, which gave the Manchester Ship Canal Company the right to build the bridge and charge those using it
- It originally cost one person on horseback or in a cart 1p (a price which equate to 18p in 2017) to cross
Trafford Council said Peel Ports recognised "the bridge is in need of refurbishment and upgrading".
She said the firm had set out "objectives" to undertake maintenance, raise the bridge's weight limit, install an automated tolling system and "introduce traffic calming measures to accommodate 10,000 vehicles per day".
Peel Ports said the company was "aware of the frustrations" and was working to obtain a Toll Bridge Order, to allow it to make changes to the bridge.
However, she said the process required a public consultation, so they were "not yet in a position to confirm any timescales".
She added that since 2014, "in extreme circumstances, such as a major accident and/or the closure of the Thelwall Viaduct", the company had waived tolls.