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  1. ITV Report

Tamar Bridge may be unable to cope with increased usage

The heavily congested bridge between Plymouth and Saltash was opened 55 years ago. Photo: ITV News

There are warnings that the Tamar Bridge will be unable to cope with the volume of traffic by 2030, if the numbers of cars using it doesn't fall.

The heavily congested bridge between Plymouth and Saltash was opened 55 years ago and is currently used by 40,000 vehicles every day.

There are now a number of options being considered to reduce commuters, to ensure it remains roadworthy.

In 1961, only 4,000 vehicles per day used the Tamar Bridge. Credit: British Pathe

Things have changed rather a lot since the building of the Tamar Bridge in 1961. The population has grown and we all use our cars a lot more.

Back in the early 60s, 4000 vehicles used the Tamar Bridge each day, now it's ten times that at 40,000.

There are concerns it will be a maximum capacity in the next decade.

40,000 people use the bridge every day. Credit: ITV News

Local bridge users told ITV News that traffic often gets backed up towards Plymouth.

My work takes me from Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall, and especially coming back it's quite congested and I know coming back in the evenings obviously for the people who live in Cornwall and working on the Plymouth side it's totally congested right back to Marsh Mills roundabout that can be a right nightmare.

– Bridge user

I have noticed problems in the summer with the holiday traffic on a Saturday morning it's taking us an hour to get across.

– Bridge user

The Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Committee is recommending Cornwall Council and Plymouth City council look into creating a park and ride in the Saltash area.

Other ideas include making the bridge toll cheaper if you travel at quieter times of day and encouraging people to car share.

Plymouth City Council will be discussing those suggestions at a meeting on Monday - as well as deciding whether to spend £20,000 on a detailed study of the congestion problems.

Park and Ride is something that's been talked about for a long time in Saltash and clearly it is one of the options that needs to be considered.

There is to be substantial housing development in Saltash and that's another means of funding a park and ride facility but clearly thousands of people come in from south east Cornwall on a daily basis and therefore park and ride is one of the good options that needs to be looked at.

– Patrick Nicholson, Plymouth City Council
The bridge was already widened and strengthened just 16 years ago. Credit: ITV News

It's not yet clear whether people will switch their cars for buses or travel off-peak to avoid higher tolls.

The bridge was already widened and strengthened just 16 years ago and was almost completely rebuilt.

However, in as little as 10 years from now it'll be facing the same problem.