Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has described plans to increase tolls in motorways across the state as “a licence to print money.”
Deputy Crowe said:
“If recent reports are correct, within the next three years motorists could be forced to pay additional tolls on many of our major roads. I understand that the National Roads Authority (NRA) is to hire consultants to examine the potential for "new tolling arrangements" which really means giving the government a licence to print money.
“It is estimated that the nine existing tolls have raised almost €2.2 billion since 2006, a huge sum of money that must be met by hard pressed motorists. Now the NRA are recommending eight new toll locations as well as an extension of tolling points on the M50 in Dublin in a scheme that would raise an extra €62 million annually.
“The Traffic Management Study is proposing tolls that would include two toll plazas on the N20 Cork-Limerick road at Croom and Mallow as well as the Jack Lynch Tunnel in Cork. Other locations being considered are the Dundalk bypass on the M1, the Ennis bypass on the N18 and the Tuam bypass on the N17/N18; the Arklow bypass on the N11 and the Carlow bypass on the N9.
“Minister Varadkar is looking at proposals for the M50 toll station, which currently generates a yearly average revenue of €100m, to see if it would be suitable for multi-point tolling whereby motorists would pay a toll on the distance they travel on the motorway.
“The facts are that over an 18 year period motorists paid for the construction of the M50 motorway many times over with money that went to National Toll Roads (NTR), a private company that taxpayers continue to subsidise.
“The benefits of having an improved road network will be negated if motorists can’t afford the expense of driving on our country’s primary routes. This short-sighted policy is not only unfair, it will damage our competitiveness and impact the Government’s ability to stimulate the economy and create jobs. It will dramatically increase the cost of road haulage, which is essential to our export trade and force large lorries to travel on secondary roads and through small towns and villages.
“To compound matters even further, the money raised from hard pressed taxpayers will not go to funding better roads, or maintaining them, but instead will line the pocket of the private companies operating these roads.
“These punitive and excessive hikes in tolls will have serious implications for people using our road network and the Government must relook at its plans.”