Private toll companies have been paid €28m by the State to compensate them for less-than-anticipated traffic on two motorways.
The sum is a result of so-called "traffic guarantee" clauses inserted in the contracts for building the stretch of the M3 from Clonee to Kells and the N7 Limerick Tunnel.
The clauses mean the State pays more to the motorway operators when fewer cars or trucks use the roads. According to an internal Department of Transport briefing document, the guarantees were introduced to address the worst case scenario of "what if no cars drive on the road" and were needed to attract bidders for the public private partnerships. Earlier this year, former Transport Minister Leo Varadkar (inset) admitted the agreements had been "a bad deal".