The Severn Bridge Tolls will end in 18 months after 52 years.
The next anticipated price rise in January will be the last before costs are passed into the general motorway maintenance budget and Welsh Government is expected to have to pick up a proportion of that expenditure in some form.
The legislation for the bridges’ construction and operation always included the reversal to public ownership from the operators in 2018 but there were concerns that some form of tolls would continue, and this has now been cleared away.
Jobs will go at the toll operating booths and some critics have said the free crossing will encourage more traffic than the 25 million currently using the links and create bigger jams west of the two bridges, so Welsh Government is pushing ahead with a motorway standard relief road around Newport once a public inquiry concludes.
The new southern relief road will not be built in time to cope with expected demand from 2019 and it may be 2021 before the work is completed over the preferred route across Newport Levels.
A spokesman for Welsh Economy Secretary Ken Skates said all political parties had pledged to scrap the tolls and today’s announcement by the UK Government was intended to “sweeten” the news a day earlier that rail electrification will end at Cardiff and not extend beyond to Swansea as hoped to boost West Wales commuters.
The Freight Transport Association and Welsh Conservatives welcomed the news of the tolls ending and it is expected to be seen as a boost to Welsh business and tourism, as well as an aid to encouraging investment in Wales.