Warrington Council and Peel Ports have agreed to work together to minimise the impact of swing bridge openings on the town, after the Council called for urgent talks in January this year.
Both parties have committed to draw up a memorandum of understanding which will include key actions for reducing disruption to traffic in the town centre caused by opening the swing bridge on the Manchester Ship Canal.
Senior council figures, including the council's three party group leaders and portfolio holder for transport, met with Peel Ports on Tuesday 4 March.
In January, Warrington Council said that it believed vessel movements passing through the swing bridges at Warrington during the peak period could be kept at or below 150 per year. This would equate to 20% of the current 750 vessel movements a year. The council said it wanted this percentage reduced to 15% over the next five years.
Gary Hodgson chief operating officer at Peel Ports Group, said: "In 2014 we anticipate fewer than 100 swings during peak periods and we will do our best to maintain and even reduce this figure in future years.
"The only occasions when the bridges are in use during peak periods will be when we have no practicable alternative."
The council will also continue to work towards defining an early warning system to provide advanced warning of planned shipping movements.
Cllr Linda Dirir, executive board member for highways, transportation and climate change, said: "We are very pleased with the outcome of the meeting and that through our discussions we have found a way to work together for residents.
"Our highest priority was that Peel agreed to reduce the number of vessels passing through Warrington in what we identified as the red traffic period. We are absolutely committed to working together to minimise the disruption caused by this and will be regularly reviewing the number of sailings in this period. Work has already started on an early warning system and this is being given high priority by council officers."
Container barge services on the ship canal rose from 3,000 in 2009 to 15,000 by 2012. Customers include Kellogg's, Princes Food and Kingsland Wine. In 2012, Peel added a second crane at Irlam Container Terminal, upstream from Warrington.