Drivers Could Soon Have To Pay To Cross Newcastle Bridges
18 February 2019, 14:34 | Updated: 18 February 2019, 14:36
Drivers could soon have to pay a toll to use the Tyne Bridge, the Swing Bridge and the Redheugh Bridge.
Councillors are considering the proposals as part of their strategy to improve the air quality in Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside.
The proposals include a toll on the three main road bridges in and out of Newcastle which would apply to all cars vans and lorries.
The only exceptions would be for ultra-low emission vehicles.
And it looks like the charges would go each way. In other words - a car driver nipping into town from Gateshead could expect to pay £1.70 on their way in, and another £1.70 on the way out.
The councils do say the tolls could be lower for certain lower-emission vehicles or depending on the time of day crossings were made.
An alternative measure being proposed is the creation of a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) - which would work in a similar way to the congestion charge in London.
The Government has told the councils they have to consider creating them.
Cars, vans and taxis could be charged £12.50 per day for entering the CAZ.
Buses, coaches and lorries could be £50 per day.
But - the three councils say no decisions on any of the charges for either the CAZ or the bridges have been finalized.
What if I can't afford that?
The councils are also proposing a series of measures to help businesses and residents affected by the charges.
These include £16,000 grants for HGV companies to upgrade vehicles, and £1000 credits for people living in the area to use on public transport.
Blue badge holders and emergency service vehicles would be exempt.
So, that means the tolls on the bridges would be cheaper for drivers than the CAZ.
Where would the CAZ cover?
The Government have told the councils they have to address pollution on the Central Motorway and Coast Road.
But to stop drivers clogging up other nearby routes, the councils say the CAZ would have to be much wider.
So, it would also include Newcastle City Centre, Gosforth and Gateshead Town Centre.
How much money would the Councils make from this?
Based on the charges mentioned above - the councils estimate the CAZ would result in an annual surplus of £43m over 5 years.
The tolls would generate £17.5m.
They say the money paid in would be used to fund running of the CAZ/Toll system - and the extra left over would go into improving the roads and public transport.
Do we get any say?
Yes, a consultation which is open to all residents, businesses and students will open on March 6th, and will run until May 17th 2019.
Why is this happening?
The councils say they're having to do this as the result of a Government legal order to tackle pollution in the shortest possible time.
Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes says he would much rather simply improve public transport, but the proposals are the result of restrictions and time contraints being put on them by the Government.