AN ambitious plan has been unveiled for Warburton Toll Bridge to cut journey times and improve reliability.

The Manchester Ship Canal Company, which owns and operates the bridge, has published details of £6.5million worth of upgrades to the approach roads, footpaths and tolling system.

Before the pandemic, the bridge carried an average of 9,500 vehicles each weekday and 6,500 each day on the weekend.

The firm has begun a month-long voluntary consultation with the community on its plans from today, Monday, until Friday, August 20, and is inviting all interested parties to have their say.

The toll will be suspended during the works to minimise any delays and an increase in the toll, which is vital for funding the works, will only be introduced once road users are able to benefit from the investment.

The current toll of 12p was set in 1863, which if it had kept pace with inflation, would now be around £15.

The proposed new toll will be up to £1 including VAT, with discounts for local residents and frequent users.

Warburton Toll Bridge set for major £6.5million upgrade to cut journey times (Image: Google Maps)

Warburton Toll Bridge set for major £6.5million upgrade to cut journey times (Image: Google Maps)

Planned upgrades include installing a free-flow tolling system, removing the need for toll booth collection and reducing delays.

Upgrades will also be carried out to the approach roads to both sides of the bridge, covering both road surfaces and footpaths.

Direct measures will be introduced to control vehicle access including weight, height, width and speed, as well as obtaining powers to enforce restrictions.

A spokesman for Manchester Ship Canal Company said: “Warrington Borough Council and Trafford Borough Council have been fully involved over several years in helping us to develop our plan to future-proof the bridge.

“Judging by the feedback we receive about the bridge and the approach roads, the upgrades will be welcomed because they will ultimately reduce travel times and provide smoother journeys.

“The current toll was set during the American Civil War and it too needs to be brought into the 21st Century, which will be the best way of funding these improvements, accepting that no action is not a sustainable way forward.”

The upgrade programme is expected to start in 2023 subject to statutory consents.

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While the proposed upgrades will significantly improve the physical structure and access to the bridge, there is still further work required to support future maintenance and even a potential provision of a replacement bridge.

Latest estimates for a replacement bridge indicate that this could cost up to £15million to complete, with a Sustainable Investment Plan seeking to build a reserve fund of up to 30 per cent of this estimated cost.

The proposed plans have taken into consideration the financial, operational, social and environmental impact of the bridge, addressing the concerns raised by customers and the local community.

MSCC is now seeking initial feedback upon its proposals from stakeholders over the next month and ahead of starting the formal statutory process for the required authorisations in autumn.

Written comments should be submitted no later than Friday, August 20, via email to

MSCC’s Sustainable Investment Plan for the Rixton and Warburton Toll Bridge can be viewed at