Southampton City Council is consulting on a proposal to remove the off-peak classification for Class 2 vehicles (cars, and light vans) from the Itchen Bridge Toll. This would see all Class 2 vehicles paying the standard toll for crossing the Itchen Bridge
One of the key reasons for maintaining the toll is to manage the traffic using the crossing and routes in Woolston, Sholing and further afield, with the toll intending to prompt drivers to make a meaningful decision on whether to use the Itchen Bridge instead of Northam Bridge or other routes. In this regard, over half of vehicle trips across the bridge are made during periods currently categorised as off peak. The other main reason for the toll is that all vehicle trips across the bridge have an impact on the highway surface and the structure of the bridge itself.
The Itchen Bridge requires continued investment which is in part due to the volume of vehicle crossings made. It is unusual for Local Authorities to have sole financial responsibility for bridges of this size and structure and because the crossing does not serve a key strategic transport route, it is unlikely that central government would offer financial support.
While it is recognised that this will be a minor increase for residents who benefit from the SmartCities discount, the discounted toll available to residents has not increased in over 20 years.
The council is also proposing an increase in the toll for HGVs with crossings for this vehicle class charged at £40, up from £25, and the associated concessions increasing to £3 from £2. The toll for this classification has not increased for over 15 years. It needs to be kept at a level that strongly encourages HGVs to use Bursledon Road and Bitterne Road West as Portsmouth Road is not suited for carrying large volumes of HGV traffic.
Councillor Eamonn Keogh, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, stated:
“The Itchen Bridge is key in linking the communities of Southampton, but it also is an asset that requires ongoing maintenance which has to be funded by the council and we are planning a significant programme of works to the bridge, costing up to £5m, in 2024/25. All vehicle crossings place wear and tear on the bridge, and the toll should reflect this. Investment in the bridge is necessary if this key link between communities is to be kept secure and in good working order for Southampton residents, businesses, and visitors now and in the future.”