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Tolls could be lifted at the East Link, but council bosses say they should stay

The bridge reverts to Dublin City Council ownership at the end of next year, but the city could lose out on €4 million in annual revenue if the toll is lifted.

A REPORT DETAILING possible options for the future of Dublin’s East Link Bridge recommends the city keep charging motorists for crossings after it reverts back to council ownership.

Built in 1984 under a deal between Dublin Corporation, Dublin Port and private company National Toll Roads — the bridge reverts back to the city on 31 December 2015.

The tolls charged at the bridge generated €4.2 million in profit last year (the council and the port splitting around a third of that amount, and the company that took over NTR’s interest receiving the lion’s share)

In the report, City Engineer Michael Phillips sets out the pros and cons of keeping the toll system in place, and sets out two options for how to proceed.

In the ‘pro’ column, councillors are told that keeping the toll would mean:

  • 100 per cent of the profits from the Toll facility would now accrue to DCC as the other two parties to the current arrangement, would no longer have any involvement.
  • Dublin City Council would seek a contractor to contract to operate the toll and provide the tolling facilities. The 22 existing staff employed on the toll facility would appear to have transfer of employment rights under any new arrangement.

Under the ‘negatives’:

  • Dublin City Council would lose the opportunity of €4.2 million toll revenue, as well as the loss of the €700,000 rates income.
  • The 22 Toll operation staff, many with long service at this facility, would be no longer required at this facility.
  • The removal of the toll booths and demolition of the existing toll plaza would cost Dublin City Council an estimated €850,000.

The City Engineer proposes to bring a report before the council in March recommending that the toll scheme be continued, and that a tendering process be undertaken to bring in a new operator for the bridge.

Contacted for reaction, Fine Gael councillor for the South East Inner City Kieran Binchy said:

“I would like to see us in a position where we can see the East Link go toll-free, but obviously that’s subject to us being able to balance the budget.

“Lifting the toll would of course help divert heavy traffic out of the city — it would also ease the burden on hard-pressed commuters.”

Members of the Council’s Transport and Traffic Committee will discuss the issue at a meeting next week.

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