New tolls on M50 and M9 being considered

 

NEW TOLLS on Dublin’s M50, a second toll on the Dublin to Waterford motorway and a handful of tolls in the midlands and west are to be considered under Government plans to raise additional revenue from roads.

While new tolls on national roads are being seen as long term and politically and practically difficult, a number of “obvious opportunities” have been mentioned by transport sources.

These include extending barrier-free tolling to additional sections of the M50, and the installation of a second toll on the M9 Dublin to Waterford route.

The M9 is to be the only one of the State’s inter-urban motorways that has just one toll – that on the Suir bridge close to Waterford city – when all the motorways are completed this year.

Other possibilities include tolling stretches of the Limerick to Cork route, the Jack Lynch tunnel and a range of bypasses such as Youghal and Ballincollig in Co Cork. Others include parts of the N52 around Tullamore.

The Gort to Tuam road in Galway, part of which is already under construction, is to be a tolled motorway and a new toll on the Limerick to Gort section is a possibility.

A second toll on the N4, near Mullingar, would depend on major work at level crossings at the Downs near Mullingar, while significant additional land would be required to build a toll plaza on the Roosky/Dromod bypass.

A Government source compared towns like Drogheda and Wicklow, commenting that while they were roughly equal in distance from Dublin, there were two tolls on the Drogheda route, on the M1 and at the Dublin Port Tunnel, but none on the Wicklow route. However, he said putting a toll on the M11/N11 to Wicklow would be extremely difficult, both politically and practically.

But transport sources said the proposals that “leapt off the page” were the Waterford route and extending the toll area on the M50. “Road pricing” had been mentioned as a “demand management measure” as far back as the Platform For Changereport, published in 2001.

Currently, only vehicles that cross the West-Link bridges on the M50 are subject to a toll, but with the upgrade of the motorway between the airport and Sandyford and the construction of overhead gantries, extending barrier-free tolling is now possible.

The move has the double benefit of including significant additional volumes of traffic without being either too practically or politically difficult, sources said.

Extending the toll range from a single point where vehicles cross the bridge to all users of the M50 “could be seen as being more fair”.

Similarly it was thought the absence of a toll on the M9 between Dublin and the Suir bridge was out of step with the State’s other inter-urban motorways, each of which will have two tolls.

The working group that Minister for the Environment John Gormley has said he will set up to advise Government on implementation of revenue-raising measures is now expected to consider these options.

The extension of the Republic’s network of tolls as a measure for generating additional income was proposed in the report of the local government efficiency review group, published last week.