Barrier-free M50 faces its first major test today


THE NEW barrier-free tolling system on the M50 gets its first major test today with a big surge in traffic volumes forecast as schools re-open after the summer break.

The National Roads Authority (NRA) pronounced itself satisfied with the performance of the new system after the barriers were removed at midnight on Friday. No major delays were reported on the motorway over the weekend, but traffic volumes were relatively light.

"It's going quite well, as expected," an NRA spokesman said. "The contractor is on site and is removing the outer perimeter of the toll barriers and everything seems to be going quite well.

"People seem to be adjusting. There's going to be an adjustment on Monday morning, there's going to be a lot more people on it, but it should be fine."

With work on dismantling the toll plaza due to continue for the next nine weeks, lane separators, "rumble strips" and speed limits are in place on the four lanes which are currently open. Motorists have to slow down to 60km/h or less, although they do not have to stop - as some continued to do over the weekend. There were some complaints about signage, but the NRA said speed limit signs were in place and a banner on the old plaza provided information for unregistered drivers on payment options.

It is still too early to know whether the system is operating efficiently in collecting tolls from drivers who have registered to use an electronic tag or to pay via video numberplate registration.

The NRA has warned of teething problems where motorists fail to install their tags correctly or where the system has difficulty reading numberplates.

The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) said yesterday it was considering a legal challenge to the €6.10 toll levied on its members when they use the toll bridge.

Chief executive Jimmy Quinn said it was still researching ways truckers could legally avoid paying the toll.

The other two tolled roads in the city, the Port Tunnel and the Eastlink, were free for trucks, Mr Quinn pointed out.

• An online Q&A covering all you need to know about the toll changes on the M50 is available on teh home page