Government and Lusoponte prepare negotiations

PUBLIC CONSULTATION on Lisbon’s third river Tejo crossing between Chelas and Barreiro and the TGV high-speed rail link stretch between Poceirão and Lisbon will begin this month.

And a public competitive tendering bid for national and international companies for the contracts has to be launched in November at the very latest.

A number of extremely complex issues will have to be ironed out before November, the most complex being the type of road-rail link the government intends to use on the bridge crossing and how it is to be financially exploited. Various scenarios are on the table, including the company Lusoponte being awarded the concession to charge tolls on the new river crossing.

One hypothesis gaining ground is that when the new bridge is inaugurated it should be exclusively for high speed and conventional trains, and only later for cars and other vehicles. One of those in favour of this scenario is the President of the National Civil Engineering Laboratory (LNEC), Carlos Matias Ramos, who believes it would serve as a kind of “enforced learning curve”.

“If people get used to using public transport, and in particular trains, it would help restrict the tendency for people to bring their cars into and out of the city at this point,” he said, adding that more roads meant more traffic.

The Minister of Transport, Communications and Public Works, Mario Lino, also backed this option in parliament, but stressed that “nothing had yet been decided”.

Others argue that the best possible scenario would be for the government to delay allowing cars to use the new bridge until such a time that the Vasco da Gama bridge had reached its traffic capacity.

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