Date set for public ownership of Severn Bridges
It has been confirmed that on 8th January 2018 both Severn bridges will come into public ownership, with the tolls for these bridges coming to an end by 31st December of the same year.
At present both bridges are operated by Severn River Crossing Plc. This company was originally founded to manage the maintenance and operation of the Severn Bridge. It then also financed, operated and maintained the Second Severn Crossing.
Revenue from the toll charges is being used to pay off these costs before both bridges return to public ownership and come under the management of Highways England.
Although it was originally believed that the Severn Crossing Tolls would remain, as a Government consultation document said it was policy that the costs of the crossings “should be paid for by the users that benefit, rather than the tax payer” it has now been stated that as of 2020-21 all revenue raised from Vehicle Excise Duty in England will be allocated to a new ‘Roads Fund’. This ‘Roads Fund’ will be invested directly back into the roads network which includes the Severn bridges.
The substantial ongoing costs of the two bridges that will need to be met include an estimated £15 million annual cost for operating and maintaining the crossings, a £63 million fund for fixing latent defects, and the £12 million resurfacing of the Severn Bridge.