Mersey Gateway toll bridge: £1m in fines issued to drivers in one month

Image source, Mersey Gateway Project
Image caption, The bridge between Runcorn and Widnes opened in October

About 50,000 motorists have faced a £20 fine for failing to pay a toll to use a new bridge across the River Mersey in the month since it opened.

The Mersey Gateway's operators said over two million drivers had used the bridge and about £1m of fines had been issued since it opened on 14 October.

Anti-tolls campaigner Conn O'Dwyer said the tolls were "immoral" and the fines "hit working people the hardest".

The bridge's operators said they were working to reduce the number of fines.

Motorists crossing the bridge are given until midnight the following day to pay the tolls, before fines are issued automatically.

The penalty for not paying can increase to up to £60, depending on when the fine is paid.

Image source, Mersey Gateway Project
Image caption, Construction work on the bridge between Runcorn and Widnes began in 2014

Eligible residents in Halton can cross the Mersey Gateway Bridge and the nearby Silver Jubilee Bridge for a £10 annual fee, while motorbikes and buses do not face a toll.

Drivers can also register for monthly passes and pre-payment schemes, but unregistered motorists face the full toll, which ranges between £2 and £8 a crossing.

Anthony Alicastro, chief executive officer of Emovis Operations Mersey Ltd, said the company was "not happy" with the amount of fines, adding: "We want that number to go down".

The total cost of the six-lane bridge, which links Runcorn and Widnes, is estimated to rise to £1.9bn by 2044, with tolls paying 80% of that total.

The government has previously said they will be dropped once the costs are paid.

However, Runcorn resident Mr O'Dwyer said as it was "one of the most deprived areas in the country", the bridge "should be paid for through taxes".

"I feel sorry for anyone who has to use the bridge to get to work," he said.

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