What will happen with toll roads in Spain?

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Íñigo de la Serna, minister of Development, takes office in November 2016 (FILE)

begins to clarify the future of the toll highways and creeks, primarily in the Community of Madrid. The minister of public works, Íñigo de la Serna, has been clarified in the Breakfast RTVE (see programme) the Government will accept its responsibility for financial (RPA) and will stay with those highways to be incorporated into the state network of roads.

what roads are we talking about?

on the one hand we have the radial (R-2, R-3, R-4 and R-5), the airport (M-12), Toledo (AP-41), the Ocaña-La Roda (AP-36), the ring road of Alicante (AP-7) and the section Cartagena-Vera (AP-7), in Murcia. There was No way of getting to an agreement with the banks and other creditors.

When were these toll roads, did wrong three things. On the one hand it is estimated that traffic is very much higher than they have. On the other hand, the lands that were expropriated have been much more expensive by the demands of the owners, and there was no economic crisis so rampant in full bubble growing.

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Network of toll highways in Spain

When you create a toll road is signed a contract between the government (in this case the State) and the concession companies. If the business goes wrong, there is the clause of the RPA, for which the State is left with the infrastructure at a price lower than it would have. That is the theory. The highways ravines, which are nine, accumulate a hole of 3,400 million euros, according to Íñigo de la Serna.

The Government did not want the assets to be liquidasen and shut, in other words, that no one could enjoy them. In the near future will be able to continue using it, but there is no known formula: it could be used well through tolls, or free-flowing. The decision is taken yet.

The negotiation with the banks is quite complicated, because many have given up on your part of debt, the have been sold with a strong discount to hedge fund, known as “vulture funds”, pending of high-risk assets and greater profitability. That the State is the “comma” can be an idea of the less bad there, especially if you lighten traffic of the free alternatives, or if it reduces the accident rate, or both.

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Motorway AP-7 – Photo: Jorge Franganillo (Flickr) CC BY

Meanwhile, there are many other toll roads not broken, but on the contrary, well written. We refer to routes built decades ago, and has already recovered plenty of investment, but the concessions were extended for political reasons of a different nature.

Are good examples of the motorway Burgos-Armiñón (AP-1), the stretch of mediterranean Tarragona-Alicante (AP-7), from Seville to Cadiz (AP-4), the Zaragoza-Mediterráneo (AP-2) and a couple of stretches of the AP-7 in Catalunya.

Yes, it’s true, the problem of Catalan. The complicated orography of the area, the political will that should prevail, and the lack of public budget caused have appeared so many ways of payment in this autonomy. The issue has come to be of the first magnitude, and is mix with other issues of state life, even if they have nothing to do.

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In Catalonia there are toll roads that rely on the government (ente regional) as a C-31 or C-32, for example. There are also pathways that are dependent on the State, the AP-2 and AP-7. Both the State as the government has extended concessions even beyond what is reasonable, you were already paid!

At the request of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), will be discussed tomorrow in the Congress of Deputies a motion to prevent the extension of the concessions, and that the sections begin to be liberalised for use and enjoyment of the public. ERC also wants the promise of no more toll highways in Catalonia, that is to say, no more concessions. It is also claimed that the prices do not go up until the end of concessions.

nationalists argue that they do not want the tolls of the catalans to fund highways and creeks in madrid, which is not objectively correct. we do Not speak of the same concession companies, in a way it is like mixing bacon with the speed, but is very gimmicky in the press. On the other hand the Generalitat has its own concessions, and more uncomfortable for the day-to-day of the Catalan people for being roads of common use among the local.

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therefore, in a period of time shorter than that late, we know what happens with all those toll roads. While the economy and the traffic is recovering a bit, is not the situation to have Spain with so many toll roads under-utilized, or worse, too many times amortized. The minister of public works had already said that there is no intent to extend more concessions before mentioned.

The next time that the grant of a concession -if you will excuse the redundancy – the criteria will have to be much more clear. To see if the Congress agreed to legislation in the future to prevent further outrages of this kind. Spain has very good infrastructure but there is an obvious problem of bloat that, in the end, we all pay.

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