By natasha smith
following a study headed by the Minister for Transport, Mário Lino, the A22 highway will remaintoll-free because of the lack of alternative route.
For many years, the planned alternative road to the A22 was the EN125. However, this stretch of road has been considered the most dangerous road in Europe, with thousands of accidents occurring on it every year.
To introduce a tollbooth on a highway, such as the A22, certain government criteria must be followed. The socioeconomic status of the area where the highway will run must be of a certain level and there must be a safe alternative route to the tolled highway. Both criteria have to be met before a tollbooth is implemented.
A study of all roads across Portugal concluded that despite the fact that the average earnings and spending power per head in the Algarve is above the national average, no sufficient alternative route to the A22 highway exists.
Three of the seven highways in the Concessões Sem Custo para o Utilizador (SCUT), concessions without cost to the user, will, as of next year, have tollbooths – all on access roads to Greater Porto. The president of Porto Câmara, Rui Rio, publicly denounced the government for breaking its electoral promise to not solely introduce tollbooths on roads in the Porto area. The Costa da Prata, Grande Porto and Norte Litoral, except between Minho and Lima are the three highways where commuters will be obliged to pay. Politicians and citizens are furious at the government for introducing yet another means to tax people. Even politicians from within the governing party have criticised this latest announcement.
Tollbooth prices at these stations have not yet been set, but the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications has estimated that revenues will be around 100 million euros per year. Many believe that motorists could face paying six cents per kilometre.
The decision to analyse and implement tollbooths on SCUT highways was taken by the minister for Transport, Mário Lino. He said that extensive negotiations will take place before anything is implemented and admitted that this could take time.