RESIDENTS and politicians have reacted with anger to news that Warrington’s motorists will have to pay to cross the new Mersey Gateway Bridge following a Government U-turn.

Readers have been expressing serious concerns over the announcement.

Here are answers to some of the questions that have been cropping up:

When will the six-lane bridge over the Mersey open?

It is due to open this autumn – an exact target date has not been set.

The bridge over the Mersey, between Runcorn and Widnes, will be tolled, along with the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge.

How much will it cost residents outside Halton?

The standard toll charge to cross either bridge will be £2 for a one-way trip in a car or a small van, with a discount pass for Warrington drivers set to be priced at £90 per month, amounting to £1,080 a year.

There will be two main options for Warrington residents – just like anyone else who lives outside of Halton – to reduce toll costs.

A peak pass will cost £90 per month, with an off peak pass priced at £60.

The second option will be for motorists to register their vehicle with the tolling operator to receive up to 10 per cent off each trip.

There will be a one-off £5 fee to register.

Is it free to use the old bridge?

No. Both the new Mersey Gateway Bridge and the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge will be tolled.

Why are tolls needed?

In March 2014 Halton Borough Council entered into a contract with the Merseylink consortium, which is responsible for the construction and operation of the project over a 30-year term.

Toll revenue and Government grants will fund the council’s payments to Merseylink.

Merseylink will use the payments received from the council to meet its costs, including the repayment of around £650 million in private sector loans and investment.

The debt is set to take around 30 years to repay.

Why will Warrington’s residents not be getting free crossings?

Ministers made a U-turn after confirming extending the discount scheme to Knowsley, Liverpool City Council and St Helens would cost £604 million – £377 million of which would have to be forked out by the five councils.

Who made the promise to the town’s residents?

Former Chancellor George Osborne made the promise, days before the 2015 General Election. Last week he responded to the Government's decision.

Who will get free crossings apart from eligible Halton residents?

Military, emergency service vehicles, local buses and motorcycles will not have to pay to cross the bridges.

Blue badge holders will also get free crossings, after paying the one-off £5 registration fee.

How will the tolls system operate?

There will be no toll booths – both bridges will use an ‘free-flow tolling system’ where smart technology is used to keep traffic flowing along the route, capture vehicle details and ensure that all bridge users pay.

Who will be responsible for setting and collecting tolls?

Halton Borough Council is responsible for securing the revenue expected to come from tolls in future years, until the project is paid for. To ensure that the project continues to be managed by a 'competent and professional' organisation, the council and Government have established the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board.

The Mersey Gateway Project is not accepting registrations yet but will be providing updates on its website.

For further information visit