AN agreement by Peel Ports to waive the charge on the Warburton Toll Bridge at times of a serious congestion is a step in the right direction but more compromise is still needed, it has been claimed.
Fed-up motorist Steve Lindley wrote to a number of councillors to voice his frustration with the town’s traffic problems.
In the letter, he welcomed the news that the toll charge will be dropped by Peel Ports when there is a serious traffic jam on the M6 but argues that the agreement needs to go one step further to stop traffic queues causing gridlock in the surrounding area during rush hour.
He said: “Either they speed up the collection process by putting an extra toll collector on duty or by letting blocks of cars through for free once the traffic has extended to an agreed limit.”
Although Warrington Borough Council has no power over how the toll is operated, works to the junction of the A57 and Warburton Bridge Road has recently been completed to improve capacity around this area.
But more work is still needed to alleviate the traffic chaos, claims Clr Ian Marks (Lymm - LD).
He added: “The understanding with Peel is welcome and a step in the right direction but it doesn't go far enough. We need to pin Peel down more because at present it is too easy for them to slide out of their responsibilities."
Clr Sheila Woodyatt (Lymm - CON) added that she has concerns about Peel Holdings and that the council will need to ‘keep up the pressure’ to ensure they keep to their side of the memorandum of understanding.
While Clr Bob Barr (Lymm - LD) agreed with Mr Lindley that the manual collection of the tolls can fuel the delays.
He said: “If coin collecting scoops were installed most motorists would not need to interact with the toll collectors and the throughput on the bridge would be likely to increase.
“While I would not necessarily advocate it, I believe relatively few residents would object if the toll was increased to 20p for those with the correct change using the automatic collected bin and possibly a slightly higher toll for those needing a manual service from the toll collector.
“These charges could compensate Peel Holdings for the extra equipment required and the loss of tolls when congestion has been caused.”
A Peel Ports spokesman said the company will continue to work with the council to ensure delays are kept to a minimum.
“Most recently we agreed to postpone the tolls at Warburton in extreme circumstances, such as the closure of the Thelwall Viaduct to help alleviate traffic delays,” added the spokesman.
Ever wondered why it costs 12p to travel one-way across the Warburton Toll Bridge but 25p to buy a return?
A spokesman for Peel Ports said: “The toll is historical and is index linked to generate the current charge. With 25p being the maximum for a two-way passage since the abolition of the half penny, the maximum single cost has had to be adjusted to 12p.”