THE EAST LINK toll bridge became public property after 30 years on New Year’s Eve, but that doesn’t mean Dubliners are finished paying to cross the Liffey.
Built in 1984 under a deal between Dublin Corporation, Dublin Port and private company National Toll Roads (NTR) — the bridge reverted back to council ownership on 31 December.
Last year, Dublin City Council decided to retain the toll for revenue to pay for repairs.
In 2013, the bridge brought in €4.2 million in profits for the council, Dublin Port and the company who had taken over NTR’s interest in the bridge.
Now that the bridge is in public ownership, the council is planning to keep the toll – €1.75 for cars.
However, Dublin City Councillor Naoise Ó Muirí says that motorists should – at the minimum – be given a discount.
“Maintaining existing tolling charges on the basis that they create an income stream for the council totally misses the point that the bridge is already paid for.
Annual maintenance costs amount to just €200,000. Even factoring in a sinking fund for long-term refurbishment costs, the Council will still be coining in far more money than is actually required.
Ó Muirí pointed to the experience of Cork where the Jack Lynch Tunnel goes under the Lee and costs nothing.
“By comparison, the Jack Lynch tunnel in Cork is free to use.
“Why do the Rebels get to go under the Lee for free yet Dubliners have to pay to cross over the mouth of the Liffey?”
Ó Muirí says he will write to the council’s Transport and Traffic Committee seeking a 75 cent reduction.
“This is a win-win for Dublin City Council and motorists alike. Motorists using the bridge to get to and from work would be set to save €1.50 per day, while the city council is still guaranteed an income which will provide for bridge maintenance and renewal.”
Dublin City Council declined to comment.