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Tolls in the capital to cover costs of improvements

04.10.2022 - 08:40
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 Mynd: RÚV
Plans have been made to introduce tolls in the capital area over the next two years. The Finance Minister plans to submit a bill to the Althing later this autumn. The tolls will fund transport improvements and reduce congestion and traffic jams on the roads during rush hour. 

The possibility of road tolls stems from the so-called Transport Agreement, signed in 2019 by the government and six municipalities in the capital region. Minister's of Finance planned bill would allow road tolls to be introduced from 1 January 2024. 

"The idea that arose during the conclusion of the agreement was that road tolls could be used to fund not only the extensive construction work that needs to be done, but also to fund traffic management," - Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson said. 

Davíð Þorláksson, director of Betri samgöngur ohf (Better Transport), the company that will handle the tolls, recently told the Spegillinn (Mirror) programme that the tolls would bring in around 5-6 billion kroner a year and cover roughly half of the total cost of the planned transport improvements. 

More than 52 billion is to be used for road and viaduct construction. Borgarlínan (a network of express bus lines) will cost more than 50 billion, cycle paths and footbridges will absorb 8 billion and 7 billion will be used to improve traffic management. 

Proposals on how the tolls will be collected have not yet been developed. It is possible that automatic gates will be set up on all roads entering the capital area, or perhaps even within the city. Another idea of introducing higher tolls during peak hours is supposed to influence daily traffic distribution. 

The director of the Association of Municipalities in the Capital Region, Páll Björgvin Guðmundsson, says that the charges will only fund improvements in the capital area. 

"During the formation of the Transport Agreement it was agreed that the tolls would only fund projects in the capital area. This is understandable," - Páll Björgvin says. 

The tolls should allow construction projects to be carried out quickly and speed up the expansion of the road network, which would otherwise take many decades. 

The population in the capital area has increased by almost 38,000 in the last decade. Corresponding to the increase in population, traffic has also increased. 

"The growth is therefore huge and we need to accelerate the implementation of these projects. In fact, this was the idea when we sat down to negotiate the Transport Agreement three years ago, " says Páll. 

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