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New M50 toll nightmare

FAMILIES today were facing another financial blow with new plans for increased tolls on major roads.

Motorists won't be able to move on the M50 without being hit with a toll under the plans.

The National Roads Authority (NRA) is looking to introduce 'multi-point' charges on the Dublin ring-road.

It means drivers will not be able to access the motorway without being tolled.

As things stand, only vehicles that pass between the Blanchardstown and Lucan junctions have to pay the fee.

This generates about €100m a year for the exchequer.

But under the proposed regime, tolling would be introduced on every section of the M50 -- regardless of the length of the journey.

That would hit commuters who use sections of the motorway everyday to get to work.

And it is not just the Dublin motorway being targeted -- six other major networks have also been earmarked for charges.

It's another expense for drivers, who have been crippled by higher insurance and fuel costs.

Consultants hired by the NRA have been tasked with coming up with the plan.

The roads body has already conducted a "demand management" study -- which recommended multi-point tolling -- and submitted the report to the previous government.



Levied

One of the elements looked at was whether to charge drivers a higher fee for using the M50 during peak times.

The latest report will "assess and introduce" new toll points on the ring road, as well as almost all of the country's other major routes.

These include the Dundalk bypass, the N20 at Mallow in Co Cork and the N20 at Croom in Co Limerick.

Under the new plans, the thousands of drivers who currently use the M50 for free -- by not passing between junction 6 and 7 -- will have to pay.

The motorway is to be divided into sections, with a charge being levied for each portion used during a journey.

For example, 50c could be charged for every interchange a driver passes up to a maximum of €3.

The NRA submitted in October claimed the Exchequer could raise an extra €62m a year through new tolls on the national road network.



Decision

The nine existing tolls have raised almost €2.2bn since 2006, it is estimated.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar told an Oireachtas committee last week that no decision had been made about additional tolling but "consideration is being given to the matter".

He pointed out planning permission for the M50 in Dublin provides for multi-point tolling.

The minister said a local government efficiency review had proposed additional tolling to fund road improvement and maintenance.

But any further increases in tolls are sure to lead to a backlash from drivers.

comurphy@herald.ie


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