The Severn Crossing - Facts and Figures
The Severn Bridge was opened to replace the ferry service between Aust Cliff and Beachley. The bridge is 8 miles upstream from Avonmouth and, at this point, the River Severn is almost 1 mile wide at high water.
The Bridge took 3½ years to build at a cost of £8m. The towers are 445 feet high and the main span is 3,240 feet. It carries two 24ft wide carriageways marked as two lanes, as well as two 12ft wide pedestrian/cycle paths. The centres of suspension cables are 75 ft apart.
The Crossing consists of four structures: the Severn Bridge which spans the River Severn, the Wye Bridge which spans the River Wye, Beachley Viaduct which connects the Severn Bridge and the Wye Bridge, and Aust Viaduct. It carries around 17,000 vehicles a day.
The Severn Bridge originally carried the M4, but with the opening of the Second Severn Crossing in 1996, the new crossing became part of the M4 Motorway and the Severn Bridge became part of the M48 Motorway.
The former Avon County Council, and Gloucestershire County Council prior to that, maintained and operated the Severn Bridge on behalf of the Secretary of State until responsibility passed to Severn River Crossing plc (SRC) in April 1992.
The M48 Severn Bridge is a local land mark and a Grade 1 listed structure. Unlike the Second Severn Crossing, it has no wind shielding and is subject to closures during high winds (see High Winds Protocol).
The toll plaza is situated at Aust on the English side of the estuary.
Second Severn Crossing
In July 1986 the Secretaries of State for Transport and for Wales agreed to build a bridge across the Severn Estuary. The new bridge would be situated approximately 3½ miles downstream from the Severn Bridge and would connect to the M4 on both banks, as well as to the M5 near Avonmouth.
The contract to design, build, finance and operate the Second Severn Crossing was awarded to SRC in April 1990. As a result, SRC entered into an agreement with the Government. The Concession Agreement was embodied into an Act of Parliament, and on 6 March 1992, the Secretary of State signed the Order setting the starting date of the Concession as 26 April 1992.
The Concession period is limited to a maximum of 30 years, although the actual end date will be achieved when SRC has collected a fixed sum of money from tolls.
The Second Crossing took 4 years to build at a cost of £330 million. The structure is approximately 3.2 miles (5,126 metres) long and consists of a central 0.6 mile (948 metre) cable stayed bridge supported by two 137 metre high pylons. It carries three lanes of traffic in each direction and was designed to include wind shielding to protect traffic.
The toll plaza is situated at Rogiet on the Welsh side of the estuary.
Statement on the extension of the Severn Crossings concession
In June 2012, the Highways Agency signed an extension to the agreement with the concessionaire, Severn River Crossings Plc (SRC). This was needed to reflect recent tax changes and the additional costs of introducing card payments at the Severn tolls. This change has increased the amount SRC can collect in tolls during the concession by £33.1m, from £995.8m to £1,028.9m — all in July 1989 prices. This is approximately a £69m increase in March 2012 prices.
The extension does not have any immediate cash implications for Government, as the costs will be recovered by SRC through the tolls. It will, however, delay the forecast end of concession by about 11 months to 2018. The actual date is dependant on a number of factors including traffic levels but is limited to a maximum of 30 years as set out in the Severn Bridges Act 1992.
We considered a number of options to finance the settlement, including a government funded cash payment, and an increase in the level of tolls. However we opted for an extension to the concession so as to minimise the impact of the changes on the tax payer.
The £33.1m increase in the amount SRC can collect in tolls represents (in July 1989 prices):
• £21.2m for the abolition of Industrial Buildings Allowance (IBA)
(£24.7m for IBA, less £3.5m in respect of Corporation Tax reductions)
• £9.4m for the additional costs of implementing and operating card payment systems from Autumn 2010 until the end of the concession;
• £2.6m in respect of the VAT increase from 17.5% to 20%
Severn Bridges Act accounts
The Severn Bridges Act accounts 2012–13 were laid before Parliament and published on 20 January 2014.
Further information, including toll prices, maintenance and lane closures, and the current status of the crossings are available on Severn River Crossing’s website at www.severnbridge.co.uk