THE Mersey Gateway celebrates its fourth anniversary today, with new figures revealing traffic is now almost back to pre-pandemic levels.

Bridge bosses expect to see two million vehicles making crossings each month across the Mersey Gateway and Silver Jubilee bridges this autumn.

In total, there have been 86.3 million journeys across the Mersey in Halton since the Mersey Gateway Bridge opened at midnight on October 14, 2017.

The newly-released figures from tolls operator Merseyflow include trips made across both the Mersey Gateway Bridge and the Silver Jubilee Bridge, which re-opened in February this year.

The most recent quarterly figures, which are presented in the latest Mersey Gateway Bridge and Silver Jubilee Bridge dashboard and cover July-September 2021, show:

Traffic levels in summer were back to 95% of pre-pandemic volumes – the busiest quarter since 2019 and autumn is expected to see two million vehicles a month using the bridges.

An average of  9,000 vehicles a day use the Silver Jubilee Bridge – far less than the 80,000 vehicles a day it used to carry.

Over 97% of journeys were paid for on time – the vast majority of people are paying for their journeys by midnight the day after they cross.

Over 90% of payments are made through digital or automated channels.

PCNs (fines) remain below historical levels from 2018 / 2019 – though they have increased alongside the rise in journey numbers.

The Mersey Gateway project had been controversial long before the first spade even hit the ground, with critics angry about the imposition of tolls. Backers though, said tolling users was the only way of funding it.

Mike Bennett, Managing Director of the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board, said: “As we approach this anniversary it’s worth casting your mind back to remember what crossing the river in Halton was like before the new bridge was developed.

“The Silver Jubilee Bridge used to carry all of this traffic – up to 80,000 vehicles a day – through Halton, and it was regularly closed or disrupted by incidents or breakdowns.”