The news that a road toll could be imposed on the 48-year old Runcorn – Widnes Bridge to help pay for a new road crossing over the River Mersey has sparked the imagination of one Audlem resident. Why not re-introduce a toll on the roads through Audlem, imposed on long-distance heavy goods vehicles, to help pay for local services, he asks. If the law allows a toll to imposed on an old bridge in Runcorn, the same could apply in Audlem which once levied a toll on its roads.
Tollgate Drive is obviously the place for the toll gate, recreating history and ideally located to cover both the east – west traffic along the A525 and the north – south trucks on the A529. There is a large verge where the toll office could be located, although careful removal of the daffodils will be required, our bulb loving correspondent suggests. Collecting the tolls would also create new local employment, helping the village fight the recession.
At a modest estimate of 50 trucks a day, and say £5 a truck – no, let's make that £10 for ease of arithmetic, he suggests – that's a total income of £182,500 a year. Subtract £500 for Christmas Day, when the toll can be free as a seasonal gesture, and £15,000 a year each for the five toll collectors that would be required – and that's still a profit of well over £100,000 a year.
Tolls on long-distance HGVs would therefore provide entirely new local jobs, transform the village's finances or, solve the area's biggest problem by persuading the HGVs to find a better, cheaper, alternative route.
The idea has been discussed informally with a number of local residents over the past week – and already volunteers are lining up to be toll collectors. While it's unlikely such a plan could ever get off the ground, the controversial news from Runcorn has certainly sparked off an interesting idea.
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