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Major £6.5m improvements planned for Warburton Toll Bridge


MAJOR improvements are being planned for Warburton Toll Bridge to cut journey times and improve reliability at the traffic bottleneck.

A total of £6.5m is to be invested in the Toll Bridge between Rixton and Warburton by The Manchester Ship Canal Company, which owns and operates the bridge, who have published an outline of upgrades to the approach roads, footpaths and tolling system.

Before the pandemic, the bridge carried on average 9,500 vehicles each weekday, and 6,500 each day on the weekend.
It will begin a month-long voluntary consultation with the community on its plans from today, Monday 19th July until Friday 20th August 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 inc VAT, with discounts for local residents and frequent users.
The planned upgrades include:
Installing a free-flow tolling system, removing the need for toll booth collection and reducing delays.
Upgrading the approach roads to both sides of the bridge, covering both road surfaces and footpaths.
Funding a major capital investment programme to reverse physical decline of the Warburton Toll Bridge.
Introducing direct measures to control vehicle access including weight, height, width and speed, as well as obtaining powers to enforce restrictions.
A spokesperson 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 Sustainable Investment Plan which was produced in partnership with Vivid Economics, identifies the current situation and outlines a plan for the upgrade programme, which is expected to start 2023 subject to statutory consents.
Whilst the proposed upgrades from MSCC 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 £15 million to complete and the Sustainable Investment Plan will look to build a reserve fund of up to 30% 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 their proposals from stakeholders over the next month and ahead of starting the formal statutory process for the required authorisations in Autumn 2021.
MSCC has owned and operated the Rixton & Warburton Toll Bridge since 1894. MSCC is owned by Peel Ports.
Written comments should be submitted no later than Friday 20th August via email to:
MSCC’s Sustainable Investment Plan for Rixton and Warburton Toll Bridge can be viewed at from 9am, today, Monday 19 July.


About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 40 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with three in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Director Warrington Chamber of Commerce Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.


  1. Warburton bridge has been a god send to motorists for many a year now a pound to cross the bridge ls nothing compared to the hassle of going all the round please don’t ever close it

  2. The toll is not for the high level bridge over the ship canal, it was for the little bridge that is just before the toll booth. I do not think that they are going to do any work on the “actual toll bridge”, just the metal monster over the canal. To increase to £1 ???? daylight robbery. Maybe the penny ferry crossing at Thelwall can start charging a higher premium so he can have a newer and faster boat.

  3. Don’t believe that the 12p toll was set in 1863, that would have been half a crown (2 shillings and 6 old pennies).
    I can remember a number of years ago, the toll price was 10p and I guess it as been lower than that also.

    • Julia
      If you have issues with the news item the facts have been supplied by the bridge owners the Manchester Ship canal company.
      I am well aware of the “history” which can easily be researched via google although there are so many conflicting reports who knows what is totally accurate?
      People are arguing about the 12 p – well in the old days it was two shillings and sixpence which converts 12.5p – halfpennies have been done away with so stating the charge as 12p is fairly accurate.
      Could you please provide a list of all the other inaccuracies and I will take them up with the owners?

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