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M7/M8 toll motorway: rip-off looms


Furet

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Joined
Oct 29, 2008
Messages
7
Map here: http://www.nra.ie/RoadSchemeActivity/LaoisCountyCouncil/N8PortlaoisetoCullahillCastletown/Map,15444,en.pdf

I note that no media forum is covering in detail the development of the NRA's Interurban motorway programme. Much media reportage seems to revolve solely around periodic road openings, rather than on how construction works are progressing.

Still, there is at least one story worthy of some attention. It concerns two closely-related schemes of the new M8 motorway: 1) the recently opened 40km M8 Cashel to Cullahill project; and 2) the M7/M8 Cullahill-Casteltown-Portlaoise PPP scheme.

The M8 Cashel to Cullahill scheme opened on 8 December 2008, and was built wholly with public money. It extends northwards from Cashel to just south of Cullahill in Co Laois, where a temporary roundabout marks the end of the motorway. Note that when the M7/M8 PPP scheme opens (due in late 2010), this temporary roundabout will be removed.

Because of this, the M7/M8 PPP tolled scheme will effectively be extended south to Urlingford (exit 4), absorbing several kilometres of the publically-built Cashel to Cullahill road between Urlingford and Cullahill.

This is exactly the same situation that occurred at Watergrasshill in County Cork in October 2006, which RTE reported on at the time: RTÉ News: Thousands avoiding Fermoy by-pass

If you examine the M8 motorway signage erected last December at junction 4 (Urlingford), you will be able to discern the word 'toll' covered over with patching that, presumably, will be removed in 2010 when the M7/M8 scheme opens. This is clear evidence that one will not be able to drive north of Urlingford on the M8 toll-free in 2010, even though this is a publically funded piece of infrastructure.
(For a lay out of the junctions, see: M8 motorway (Ireland) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

There is no good reason why drivers should have to pay a private company money to drive on a public road, which is what will hapen. I am only familiar with the M8; it is possible that similar things will happen on the M6 and M7.

I would also suggest a far closer monitoring of the NRA's interurban motorway construction programme by our media. As you may know, information from official channels (the NRA and the Dept of Transport) on the progress of various M7 and M6 schemes is very scant (there are major financial problems with the Nenagh to Limerick M7 scheme, for example, but these have scarcely been highlighted by anyone save a few local newspapers). The Castletown to Nenagh M7 scheme is similarly proceeding without any information being put into the public domain RE progress, etc. The M7/M8 PPP scheme itself is advancing at an incredibly slow rate of construction in comparison with the M8 Mitchelstown to Fermoy scheme for example; again, rumours abound that the company building the scheme, CRG, is facing financial problems and that it has let go a number of workers - which, if true, may well delay the project. The point is, we just don't know. Very few motorway schemes have websites where members of the public can follow construction progress. In fact, I know of only two: the N25 Waterford Bypass site, and the Limerick Tunnel site, both of which are very informative. What is clear is that the state is spending billions on much-needed motorway construction and the media is not casting a critical eye over any of it, bar perhaps the M3.

EDIT: Just to clarify, I am not against the toll. I would happily pay a toll to drive on a safe, high quality route between Cork and Dublin. I object to several kilometres of motorway built by the state being given over to a private company which did not pay for its construction.
 

Question R24U

Active member
Joined
Oct 5, 2008
Messages
269
Furet sent me this rep message
not helpful or constructive in any way at all.
in response to this post
Use an alternative route - which the L drivers use (and if you like you can listen to Joe Duffy to hear more of your ilk).
PPPs facilitate road construction. If, as a driving consumer, you do not wish to pay the toll, you can use this to plan it (exclude motorway):
Route Planner: Routes, maps and directions - The AA
Now stop whinging.
 

Furet

Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2008
Messages
7
Well, your comment about people of my "ilk" was rude and petulant.

And if you'd read my initial post properly, you would have noted that I do not object to paying the toll to use the M7/M8 scheme. I do object to having to pay the toll to the PPP company for driving on the Cashel to Cullahill scheme however, because this was not built through PPP.

This isn't a whinge, it is a legitimate complaint. If CRG are to collect tolls from drivers driving on the Cashel to Cullahill scheme between Urlingford and Cullahill, then they should have built it, not the government.
 

Horace Horse

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Joined
Feb 4, 2009
Messages
429
The M4 is a rip-off. It's just under 3 euros. The government has been quite negligent in permitting these rip-offs.
 

Furet

Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2008
Messages
7
I have no problem with PPP toll roads. My problem is that sometimes when a PPP scheme opens, it absorbs part of a pre-existing, publicly-financed road.

Incidentally, the AA routeplanner is hopelessly out of date.
 

DaveM

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
16,033
Furet, the PPP schemes generally involve the operator taking over responsibility for the operation and maintenance of sections of road which they did not actually construct themselves, e.g. only Phase 2 of the the M50 upgrade is being constructed under a PPP contract however they will assume responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the Phase 1 and Phase 3 sections which were built under straight DB contracts by other contractors for the duration of their concession. The M1 operates in a similar manner as far as I know and I presume the M7/M8 will be the same. In saying that the single point tolling method is a bit of blunt instrument and a pay as you use method would be more equitable.
 

Furet

Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2008
Messages
7
Furet, the PPP schemes generally involve the operator taking over responsibility for the operation and maintenance of sections of road which they did not actually construct themselves, e.g. only Phase 2 of the the M50 upgrade is being constructed under a PPP contract however they will assume responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the Phase 1 and Phase 3 sections which were built under straight DB contracts by other contractors for the duration of their concession. The M1 operates in a similar manner as far as I know and I presume the M7/M8 will be the same. In saying that the single point tolling method is a bit of blunt instrument and a pay as you use method would be more equitable.
Thank you. I suppose that as long as Celtic Roads Group maintain that part of the Cashel to Cullahill scheme which they will absorb, then that at least is something. However, the state did pay some €70 million plus constructing that particular section. It seems a pretty bad deal to me.
 

DaveM

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Sep 16, 2010
Messages
16,033
Thank you. I suppose that as long as Celtic Roads Group maintain that part of the Cashel to Cullahill scheme which they will absorb, then that at least is something. However, the state did pay some €70 million plus constructing that particular section. It seems a pretty bad deal to me.
Maybe, maybe not. What it does do though is allow the state to transfer a lot of risk to the contractor. Think of it this way. The tolling concessions generally seem to have a 45 year duration. The design life of motorway surfaces is about 20 years. Therefore over the course of the 45 years the operator will have to foot the cost of resurfacing the road twice. That costs a fair few quid and estimating exactly how much when it is so far in the future is the source of considerable risk. In taking on the contract the PPP contractor is including that risk within its price and the state achieves long term cost certainty and offloads a lot of budgetary headaches. At this early stage it's difficult to say how good or bad a deal it will be for either the government or the contractor but it should be remembered that the price attained is the best the market could offer in a competitive tendering process which attracted bidders from all over Europe.
 

Furet

Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2008
Messages
7
That is a good way to look at it I suppose, though I'm pretty sure that the contract for this scheme is 30 years, and that the contract actually started in June 2007.

Rumours indicate that CRG is in financial difficulties at the moment, and that it has let a lot of its workers go. The project is unlikely to be finished by 2010 according to some sources, but we'll have to wait and see.

It's a little annoying that this interurban scheme will be one of the last - if not the last - to finish, since the N roads it's replacing are in very poor condition (much of the N8 from Abbeyleix to Portlaoise for example has no hard shoulder; then there are the traffic jams...).
 
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