Algarve A22 motorway on the way

The Algarve’s eight-year long battle against tolls on the A22 motorway is on the verge of ending in defeat. At a meeting of the Council of Ministers on Thursday, the cash-strapped government revealed that tolls would be charged within the next fortnight on the A22, along with the A23, A24 and A25, which are located in northern and central Portugal.

Algarve A22 motorway tollsSuccessive bureaucratic and political delays in implementing tolls on the A22 failed to deter the government this Thursday, as it revealed that the charging of tolls on four motorways is an integral part of next year’s state budget.

But it has emerged that charging tolls on these roads is still forecast to represent a shortfall of at least around half a billion euros a year, which will have to be covered by the taxpayer.

Tolls paid by motorists are not expected to cover the full cost of operating the respective motorways, with the government having already committed to paying road companies compensation for loss of revenue due to drivers diverting to secondary roads.

Last Friday, the Minister for the Economy stated with some conviction that tolls on unpaid motorways would come into force before the end of the month.

But Mr. Álvaro Santos Pereira cautioned that tolls would merely serve to minimise the cost of operating these roads.

“Even after we have introduced tolls, we will have an accumulated debt of around 21 billion euros by 2030. It is unsustainable”, he explained, leaving the door open for tolls to be systematically increased above inflation with every passing year or even shorter intervals.

Estimates are that travelling along the Algarve’s A22 motorway will cost drivers just under 7 cents a kilometre. In total, a trip from Vila Real de Santo António in the east to just after Lagos in the west will cost a projected €8.97.

The implementation of tolls had been set for 15 April, but the previous government opted not to carry out the measure, arguing it would be unconstitutional to introduce tolls on the eve of a general election.

National road company Via Verde told that it believed the government would still apply an exemption period for residents and businesses located within 20 kilometres of any stretch of a previously uncharged motorway, though cautioned that it could only be certain of this once the information had been published.

Motorists who qualify for this so-called “positive discrimination” will be entitled to ten free monthly trips on a motorway followed by a 15 percent discount for the remainder of the month once the credits have been depleted.

The exemption is however expected to be terminated during the course of 2012, with July the most likely date.

Motorists will have to apply for exemption prior to using a motorway and this can be done at Via Verde offices (the sole one in the Algarve being in Faro) at ACP offices (only one of these as well in the Algarve) or CTT post offices, where the inability of motorists to successfully purchase and obtain information in order to set up transponders is well-documented.

Another stumbling block for motorists is that they will only qualify for positive discrimination should the address on their respective Registration Certificates indicate they reside in the area which is located within the required distance of a motorway.

Bureaucracy for motorists who are still paying off their cars is further complicated as the addresses on these certificates are usually those of banks located in Lisbon.

To overcome this problem, Via Verde says a letter will be required from a bank stating that the address of the driver of the vehicle is not that of a bank, but in fact in the vicinity of a previously unpaid motorway.

source: theportugalnews.com

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