Four councils have joined together to commission research aimed at persuading the government to scrap tolls at the Humber Bridge.
The Humber Bridge has £333m of debt
The research will assess the impact the tolls are having on the local economy. Cars currently have to pay £2.70 for a single crossing.
A spokesman for North Lincolnshire Council said carrying out the study was "vital to making progress".
He added: "There is little prospect of influencing ministers without it."
Campaign group Humber Action Against Tolls claims the charges adversely affect the local economy and punish hospital patients who have to use the bridge.
Its members have held protests at the bridge, calling for the tolls to be scrapped.
Hull City Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, North Lincolnshire Council and North East Lincolnshire Council said while high toll charges remained in place, the Humber region was "unlikely to realise its economic potential".