A consortium led by the Spanish company, Dragados Concesiones de Infraestructuras, has won the contract from the Irish National Roads Authority to extend the M1 Dublin to Belfast motorway and provide electronic tolling facilities on an existing section of the route.
The signing of the contract was announced on 9th February and requires the consortium to hand 95% of the expected €25 million tolling revenue to the National Roads Authority during the construction period of the new motorway. The consortium will furthermore pay a share of the future toll revenues above specified traffic volumes, to the NRA, during the remainder of the concession period as a mechanism to prevent windfall profits in the event of exceptional traffic growth. Revenue from the tolled section will pay for the maintenance of the entire 54Km of the motorway lying within the Republic.
It is estimated that if the public sector were to undertake all the works in the contract that it would cost approximately €340m, excluding land costs, with the construction element amounting to € 160m.
The existing 22Km tolled section of the M1 was completed in 2003 but is equipped with cash-only plazas. The contract makes clear that the consortium, which includes HBG Ascon, providors of the Easypass ETC system, is required to upgrade the plazas to full ETC functionality including a dedicated non-stop lane. At the time of going to press, no one within the consortium or the NRA was able to confirm whether or not the tolling plazas would be deploying the European pre-standards for DSRC.
The new section of motorway - to be known as the Dundalk Western Bypass - is part of the Trans-European Road Network (Euroroute E01) and is expected to open to traffic in late 2006.