DRIVERS crossing the Whitchurch Toll Bridge will see a 50 per cent toll increase from next month.
The price for cars will now rise to 60p (40p with a bridge toll card) from 40p, while vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes mgw will pay £4 or £2.50 for pre-paid tickets.
The Whitchurch Bridge Company, which owns and operates the privately owned structure, said on its website that the new prices will come into effect on August 12 this year, adding that it regretted the increase was necessary.
The rise was announced today (Monday) following the Department for Transport approving the company's application.
It follows a public inquiry held in Pangboune in May where the company said it needed to help cover the higher-than-expected costs of repairing the 113-year-old structure.
The bridge closed for reconstruction work in October 2013 but a series of setbacks delayed the project by nearly a year.
The cost of the work spiralled from £6.4m to £8.7m. Intending to borrow £1.2m the company ended up borrowing £3.4m, which it wants to pay back within 15 years, while shareholders contributed £500,000.
Residents in Pangbourne and Whitchurch formed an action group to fight the toll rise, saying it was grossly disproportionate given that the company successfully raised its toll in 2009 in order to help pay for the refurbishment.
See the Newbury Weekly News for more on this story.