Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Questions (62, 63)

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

82 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport the date at which barrier free tolling will be implemented on the M50; the way this system will be operated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9093/06]

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Mary Upton

Question:

132 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Transport if he will set out a timeframe for the introduction of open road tolling on the West Link toll-bridge; if this is not planned to coincide with the opening of the Dublin Port tunnel, the way in which he proposes to manage the additional 2,200 trucks which will use the West Link when the Dublin Port tunnel opens. [9059/06]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Transport)

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 82 and 132 together.

The statutory power to levy tolls on national roads, to make toll by-laws, and to enter into toll agreements with private investors in respect of national roads is vested in the National Roads Authority, NRA, under Part V of the Roads Act 1993, as amended by the Planning and Development Act 2000. Tolling the M50, therefore, is a matter for the NRA in the first instance.

Following the termination of discussions with NTR in relation to the upgrade of the West Link toll facility, the NRA has commenced a tender process for the design, building and operation of a barrier free toll regime on the M50. I understand from the NRA that it expects to have free flow single point tolling in operation on the upgraded section of the M50 in summer 2008. I expect to receive specific proposals later this year from the NRA on these 2008 arrangements.

The planning permission granted for the M50 upgrade requires that the NRA publish a scheme of specific demand management measures for the motorway corridor no later than three years after the upgrade has been completed in 2010. For this reason the barrier free tolling arrangements will need to be adaptable to meet the medium to long-term needs that arise and to satisfy the planning permission requirements in that regard. Comprehensive research and analysis will require to be undertaken by the NRA in the coming years in order to address the post 2010 situation and to submit proposals to the Minister for Transport at the appropriate time.

The move to free flow tolling will not occur in conjunction with the opening of the Dublin Port tunnel. However, following the opening to traffic of the tunnel, Dublin City Council will be introducing a heavy goods vehicle traffic management strategy to ensure that optimum traffic benefits are secured from the Dublin Port tunnel. My Department is consulting with all stakeholders, including Dublin City Council, to facilitate the development of a co-ordinated traffic management strategy for the opening of the tunnel.

The improvement of traffic flow on the M50 requires the implementation of the M50 upgrade project, including the installation of barrier free tolling, phase one of which is now getting under way. The delivery of the upgrade works will provide a significantly enhanced M50 motorway linkage around Dublin city.