Senator Regina Doherty pictured with campaigners at Leinster House today including former Mayor of Drogheda Frank Godfrey and Meath councillor Paddy Meade Jane Matthews/The Journal
traffic chaos

'The town is at a standstill': Drogheda locals call on Government to axe M1 toll charges

Local representatives say that since the closure of the Obelisk Bridge, people have been forced to use the motorway to travel from one side of the town to the other.

DROGHEDA LOCALS ARE calling on the Government and the Minister for Transport to abolish the M1 motorway charges into and out of the town, with protesters saying the toll is “completely unfair”.

A small group of campaigners took their campaign to the gates of Leinster House today, with one demonstrator pointing out that traffic in the town is at unprecedented levels as cars and trucks travel through it to avoid the toll.

The Co. Louth town already has a problem with traffic congestion, but the problem has been worse since the closure of the historic Obelisk Bridge on the outskirts of the urban area.

The bridge allows motorists to cross the River Boyne without going into the town centre or using the motorway, however it was closed in August for repairs and is due to remain closed for a period of 10 months.

Fine Gael county councillor for Meath, Paddy Meade explained that many who work and live locally have been forced to use the motorway and pay the toll to avoid the heavy traffic in the town when getting from one side to the other.

“Most tolls, you’re going 100 miles. If you’re going 100 miles and you’re paying two euros it’s not so bad. The problem in Drogheda is you’re only going two kilometres. Most people here that are annoyed are using two kilometres of a toll and paying for it,” Meade said.

Most days, I pay it four times, if not six times.

“It’s €2,000 – €3,000 a year that I’m giving the toll company, which is a serious figure,” he added. 

Meade was joined at today’s protest by former Mayor of Drogheda Frank Godfrey who said Drogheda is the only tolled town in Ireland and called on Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to abolish it.

He said even removing the toll for one year while the Obelisk Bridge is being repaired would be a welcomed intervention.

Meade met with Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe last week and raised the issue with him and said he believes there is a good case for the Government to buy out the toll contract.

The contract for the toll is currently in its 22nd year of a 30 year period. For the Government to purchase it, it would cost in the realm of €100m according to Meade.

“Yes, it’s big money to buy it out but if you consider the cost of all the business lost in the area and the cost for locals that are paying the toll, it is worth it,” Meade said.

Louth TD Imelda Munster raised the issue of traffic in Drogheda in the Dáil yesterday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar responded that he was aware of the issues and would look into it. 

Munster has previously proposed that locals who have been impacted by the bridge closure be given M1 toll passes, however, the Department of Transport has said that there are no plans at present to introduce a waiver.

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