IT has been one of the main focusses of chats down the pub ever since it opened: Will the Itchen Bridge toll ever be removed?

And, like me, you’ve probably heard the story hundreds of times that once the toll had raised enough to cover the cost of the bridge - around £12m - it would be removed.

However, 44 years after it opened, the toll is still there, so we’ve decided to ask the city council: What’s happening?

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Daily Echo: Connstruction of the Itchen Bridge.

“We can confirm that there has never been an agreement or plan to remove the Itchen Bridge toll,” a spokesperson told us – not a promising start.

They added that the toll is controlled by the Hampshire Act 1983 (an Act of Parliament) and performs two separate functions:

  • Pays for the ongoing maintenance of the bridge, including repairs and daily maintenance as well as upgrades like lighting.
  • Controlling congestion in the area around the bridge by deterring non-local traffic from using the bridge as a (shorter) route to the city centre from further east.

Daily Echo: The Itchen Bridge take by Camera Club member Connor Harris in December

Well, that makes sense, but what about this well-know story about it being removed, it must have come from somewhere?

Luckily, the council had a response for that too.

“The ‘urban myth’ surrounding the Itchen Bridge one day being free to cross may have arisen from a question that was asked during a debate in parliament, regarding whether the bridge would ever pay for itself.

“The answer given was that this was unlikely, but not out of the question. This answer was not part a decision-making process and was not legally binding but was purely an opinion given at the time.”

So, there we have it. Whenever you’re next down the pub, or at the shop, and the topic of the bridge toll being removed comes up, you can swoop in with the “actually, that’s not true…”