THE AP-7 motorway will be free on the Costa Blanca in Spain’s Valencia region on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.
The company Abertis, whose concession runs out on January 1st, will lift the toll barriers as the New Year is rung in, marking an end to 40 years of tolls. But whether the road remains free to use is not a question that has been settled.
With tolls officially lifted on the AP-7 in just a few days, questions remain unanswered.
The national government has been sending ambiguous messages for months while experts, business organisations and affected sectors warn about the consequences of a proposal for free of charge that many, except transport companies, consider a wrong move.
Several city councils and the Chamber of Contractors warned of the loss of up to €10 million in revenue from the IBI currently paid by the AP7 as it passes through the corresponding municipalities.
Experts say that if the State takes over collection of fees, no one can guarantee that the proceeds are allocated to the maintenance of the roads.
José Manuel Vasallo from the University of Madrid said: “Auditors in Spain and the European Union have reiterated that the management of public companies leaves much to be desired in terms of efficiency in decision making and the extra costs of the works.”
He added: “In the case of Spain because there has been a dual network of toll motorways and free highways that has been developed without a predefined criterion, which has led to some regions of our country being disadvantaged compared to others.”