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2006
Buy-out of the Westlink toll bridge
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6  December  2006
Dáil Question
No:  74 + 139
 
To ask the Minister for Transport the amount provided in the Book of Estimates 2007 for the buy-out of the Westlink toll bridge; and when he expects same to be drawn down.
 
- Emmet Stagg. (Nominated by: Róisín Shortall).
For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 6th December, 2006.
Ref No:   41645/06
 
Dáil Question
To ask the Minister for Transport when the negotiations regarding the State's purchase of the West Link toll bridge will be completed; if it is intended that the sector of road between the N3 and N4 will also be purchased by the State; if this will form a separate contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
 
- Tom Hayes. (Nominated by: Olivia Mitchell).
For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 6th December, 2006.
Ref No:   41778/06     Lottery:   48
 
Answered by the Minister for Transport
(Martin Cullen TD)
 
REPLY
 
I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 and 139 together.
 
I refer the Deputy to my response to Question No. 251 which is attached.
 
In relation to the question of a provision in the Book of Estimates for 2007, there is no such provision in the Abridged Estimates & Summary Public Capital Programme, 2007.
 
Dáil Question
To ask the Minister for Transport the progress to date in the renegotiation of the West-Link toll agreement; the details of the Government strategy in this regard; and the timescale for the finalisation of those negotiations.
 
- Róisín Shortall.
For SUBSTITUTE PRIORITY answer on Wednesday, 6th December, 2006.
Ref No:   41995/06
 
Answered by the Minister for Transport
(Martin Cullen TD)
 
REPLY
 
At the outset, I should explain that overall responsibility for the planning, design and implementation of national road improvement projects, including the M50, is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) and the local authorities concerned.  I have no function in relation to the day-to-day operation of these projects.
 
In addition, the statutory power to levy tolls on national roads, to make toll bye-laws and to enter into toll agreements with private investors in respect of national roads, including the M50, 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).
 
As the Deputy is aware, last January, for commercial and strategic reasons, the National Roads Authority (NRA) decided to end the arrangement with National Toll Roads (NTR) that has been in place under an agreement entered into in 1987 for the collection of tolls at West Link up to 2020.
 
Instead, I understand that the NRA is separately procuring a single point barrier free toll system which will become operational in quarter 3 of 2008.  This will coincide with the completion of Phase 1 of the upgrade of the M50 the section between the N4 and the Ballymount interchanges.  NTR will be compensated in accordance with the 1987 Agreement.
 
The exact details of the arrangements, including compensation, are being finalized at present between NRA and NTR.   The arrangements under consideration provide for the complete termination as of Quarter 3, 2008 of the West-Link agreement which relates to NTR's contractual right to charge tolls on the N3 to N4 section of the M50.  NTR do not own the West-Link bridge section they hold the concession to charge tolls on that particular section of the M50.
 
As the proposed termination will not take effect until 2008, NTR will  continue to operate in accordance with the existing concession until that time.
 
As I mentioned, the NRA/NTR discussions are in the process of being finalized at present.  Until those discussions are concluded, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on their likely outcome.  My Department is continuing to monitor the situation.