Queues promise as bridge hits overhaul milestone

Humber Bridge
Humber Bridge
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DRIVERS have been promised queues will soon be a thing of the past as a major overhaul of the Humber Bridge reaches a key milestone.

Physical changes to the appearance of the crossing have been completed with the installation of new-look toll booths and canopies.

Work is now underway on installing the computer system that will allow drivers to pay their tolls automatically through an electronic tag on their windscreens.

The new system is due to be up and running by next summer.

General manager Peter Hill said: “Delays will be a thing of the past when this technology, which is tried and tested, goes live.

“There will be no waiting in queues. Cars will be able to go straight through.”

The construction work has led to some of the biggest changes in the appearance of the Humber Bridge in its 33-year history.

Mr Hill said: “We are extremely pleased with the work so far, the new booths and the canopies above them all look fantastic.

“However, there is a danger that with this important part of the project completed bridge users will think the work is nearing done, which is not the case.

“Moving from the old system to full automation is a long job and it will be several months before the new system is fully installed and operational.”

The number of toll booths has been cut from six to three in each direction alongside the creation of two ‘free flow’ lanes where drivers using electronic tags will be able to cross without stopping.

Anyone trying to use the lanes without paying will have their number plate read by special cameras.

The Humber Bridge Board says the change is needed because the previous system used to run tolls had become outdated.

It says the new technology is similar to that used on other crossings around the UK and is tried and tested.

Businesses in the area have long campaigned for the scrapping of Humber Bridge tolls arguing they are a significant obstacle to the growth of the area’s economy.

They secured a significant victory two years ago when Chancellor George Osborne agreed to write-off around half the Bridge’s debts leading to a significant cut in the tolls.

Making journeys around the Humber, as well as in and out of the area, easier is a key plank of efforts to encourage energy companies to locate on both banks of the estuary.