Campaigners are warning that a new toll bridge at Runcorn will impose huge hardship on drivers in Cheshire, Liverpool, Merseyside and Lancashire.

And they say that forecast toll levels mean a daily commuter using the new bridge will pay a staggering £118,000 in tolls during a lifetime.

The National Alliance Against Tolls (NAAT) warns that the planned £390m Mersey Gateway will be “a disaster” for drivers and businesses in Chester, South Liverpool, St Helens, Wigan, Knowsley, mid-Cheshire and West Lancashire.

Hardest hit will be those who live outside the boundary of the Borough of Halton and use the current Runcorn Bridge daily to get to work or to carry out business.

Ironically many of these people live in Lancashire and Cheshire and either they or their parents will have contributed to the cost of building the existing Runcorn Bridge.

If inflation between now and 2014, when the bridge is scheduled to open, runs at around 5% the toll for a single car journey will be around £2 (although the Mersey Gateway proposals warn it could be as high as £2.50p) At that rate a commuter using the bridge five days a week will pay-out more than £1,000 a year from the outset.

NAAT spokesman John McGoldrick, said: “Roads users already pay £50 billion a year in taxes so there is no justification for imposing tolls on users of the Runcorn Bridge. It is part of the national road network and the cost should be met by the Government.

“We recognise that there is a pressing need for an improved crossing at Runcorn, but ideally the new bridge she a short one, build “We already suffer the blight of the Mersey tunnel tolls and there are the crazy proposals for a Congestion Charge scheme in Manchester.

“We urge everyone who objects the tolls on a new bridge to write to their MP and to raise a formal objection.”