The Conservatives have said they plan to scrap the Severn Bridge tolls next year, when Highways England is due to take over the crossing.
Prime minister Theresa May announced the pledge to scrap the tolls, which range from £6.70 to £20 and which are only payable on the English side, if the Conservatives are re-elected on 8 June. Plans were already in place to cut the toll to £3 for cars and buses next year.
Severn River Crossing has held the operating concession for the Severn Bridge and the Second Severn Crossing since 1992. It was awarded the concession which included construction of the second crossing, which was completed in 1996. Money from the tolls goes towards operating the bridges; maintenance costs are said to reach around £7M each year.
But Highways England will operate both bridges from next year, when Severn River Crossing’s contract expires. Scrapping the tolls could mean maintenance money for the bridges will have to be found from elsewhere in Highways England’s budget.
May said abolishing tolls for 25M annual journeys would boost economic growth in key English and Welsh cities by £100M per year, according to news reports.
New Civil Engineer has contacted the Conservatives. Highways England declined to comment.