TRANSPORT bosses are not planning to introduce tolls on a £212 million bypass aimed at tackling congestion and unlocking key land for development.

The Western Link will be built after the Government agreed to provide £142.5 million for the scheme, with Warrington Borough Council to contribute £70.2 million.

In the authority’s draft local transport plan appendices documents, it highlights the prospect of introducing tolls at river-crossing sites including the Western Link, Kingsway Bridge and Centre Park Link.

And it says there is potential for a Warrington system to be linked to the Mersey Gateway Bridge system.

But it is anticipated that motorists could use the Thelwall Viaduct on the M6 to avoid future charges, although it is stated this could still ‘provide benefits’ by cutting the number of vehicles using the town centre.

A statement in the appendices adds: “Road user charging can be implemented on specific roads, such as bridges, or for a whole area, such as the London congestion charge, depending on what the intended outcomes are for the area.

“There is scope for local residents to be exempt, as is the case for the Mersey Gateway Bridge, so as to target through traffic, but the rationale for this would need to be established.

“Exempting local residents from the charges may not be effective in managing demand of private vehicle flows on Warrington roads and may not therefore generate the congestion benefits desired.

“It may therefore not be considered to be acceptable publicly.

“Any charge applied in Warrington would need to be set broadly in line with the other tolls in the area, notably the Mersey Gateway Bridge and the Mersey tunnels.”

Warrington Guardian:

The Mersey Gateway Bridge

However, the council has distanced itself from bringing in charges on the future bypass.

A spokesman said: “We submitted an outline business case for the Western Link in December 2017.

“This business case highlighted the strong benefits of the scheme, in delivering up to a 30 per cent reduction in congestion around the town centre and helping to improve air quality.

“This business case does not include any plans to place a toll or charge on the Western Link, or any other roads in Warrington.

“We have explored a range of options for the future of transport in Warrington.

“We do not believe that a tolling or congestion charging system is suitable for our borough.

“What is instead proposed is further investigation into a workplace parking levy and a mass transit network with park and ride sites.

“These proposals are reflected in our recently published draft local transport plan 4 (LTP4), which is now out for consultation.

“We are encouraging everyone to get involved in the consultation, come to one of our public events in May and June and help shape the plan.”

It comes as Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid says many residents remain concerned over the Mersey Gateway tolls ‘causing more traffic congestion’ on Warrington roads.

He added: “Ultimately, I believe that the best solution to tackle this issue is for the Conservative Government to hold true to its 2015 promise and scrap the Halton bridge tolls for my constituents and for Warrington businesses.

“If this inept Conservative Government continues to ignore the views of my constituents and keeps the Mersey Gateway tolls then Warrington Borough Council must explore all the options available in respect of the proposed Western Link, including tolls for non-Warrington residents and businesses, and decide on a way forward that serves the best interests of our town.”

The Government believes the Western Link could open up land for development for up to 24,000 new homes and deliver thousands of new jobs, including employment at Port Warrington.

Construction on the new road could start as early as 2021 but it would have to pass the planning process first.