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Severn bridges tolls scrapped in time for Christmas

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Motorists are to be granted a welcome early Christmas present as journeys over the Severn bridges get set to go free for the first time in 52 years.

Sunday is the final day that the current fee of £5.60 will be required for cars heading from England into South Wales and work is being done to remove toll booths from the original Severn Crossing and the Prince of Wales Bridge.

Both are undergoing changes to create a route that means drivers will no longer have to stop to pay, just as thousands of people prepare to travel home for the festive period.

Work is underway to remove the tolls well in time for Christmas. Pic: Highways England
Image:
Work is under way to remove the tolls well in time for Christmas. Pic: Highways England

Hannah Milliner, general manager for the bridges at Highways England, said: “Work is needed to make sure that drivers can safely travel across the bridges without stopping to pay a toll, or waiting for a barrier to be raised.

“The weekend we have chosen avoids peak period traffic and also means that the work will be complete so that drivers can make journeys free of charge over the festive period.

“We would like to thank drivers in advance for their patience while we carry out this work and to ask them to plan ahead for any journeys they are considering.”

The original bridge has required a fee to cross since 1966. Pic: Highways England
Image:
The original bridge has required a fee to cross since 1966. Pic: Highways England

The Prince of Wales Bridge will reopen on Monday with three flowing lanes, although they will be narrowed with a reduced speed limit of 50mph for safety reasons.

On Wednesday, the Severn Bridge will reopen with two free flowing lanes, again narrowed with a 50mph limit.

Highways England plans to carry out further work on the bridges in 2019 to return both routes to a three lane motorway with the usual 70mph speed limit.

Monday will be the first day since 1966 that a fee has not been required to journey over the original Severn Crossing, while the Prince of Wales Bridge has also required a toll since it opened in 1996.

The newer crossing was named after the royal in April this year, despite more than 30,000 people signing a petition against the honour.

Prime Minister Theresa May and the Queen had agreed on the title to recognise Charles’ 70th birthday year and 60 years since he became the Prince of Wales.

An estimated 25 million car journeys are made across the River Severn between England and Wales every year using the two bridges, costing motorists in cars and minibuses £5.60.

Drivers in vans up to 3.5 tonnes, double-cab pick-ups and small buses with up to 17 seats are charged £11.20, while goods vehicles, lorries over 3.5 tonnes and buses with more than 17 seats pay £16.70.

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