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Taxpayer left on hook for €32m for underused toll roads - Darren O’Rourke TD

11 January, 2023 - by Darren O Rourke TD

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, has received figures which show the taxpayer has paid out over €32 million to two private toll road operators over the past three years alone.

The Meath East TD said;

“Figures I have received from Transport Infrastructure Ireland show that the taxpayer has forked out over €32m in so called traffic guarantee payments to just two toll road in the past three years.

“Due to lower-than-expected traffic volumes on the M3 motorway and the Limerick Tunnel, the taxpayer has been forced to step in and compensate the private toll road companies.

“The gold-plated PPP contracts that permit these very generous traffic guarantee payments, are a legacy of bad economic policy choices and decisions made by successive Fianna Fáil-led administrations in the early 2000s.

“The Limerick Tunnel in particular represents a catastrophic deal for the taxpayer, with the state forking out over €26m in the past three years alone.

“Such contracts are also completely counter-intuitive, as it creates traffic congestion elsewhere as people avoid the tolls.

“These traffic guarantee clauses are also now in direct conflict with the ambition to reduce the number of car kilometres travelled on our roads and the desire to get more people onto public transport to help reduce emissions.

“In my own constituency of Meath, we hope to have the train line re-established within the decade, which will take thousands more cars off the M3 motorway.

“The Limerick Tunnel contract runs until 2041, while the M3 contract doesn’t expire for another 30 years, so we can expect these payments to increase significantly over the next few decades as people move to more sustainable modes of transport.

“The taxpayer will be left with a bill of hundreds of millions of euro as a result. It’s hard to understand how any government would have signed up to such agreements.

“These toll road contracts represent poor planning, a total lack of foresight and dreadful value for money for the taxpayer.”

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