PRESIDENT Mariano Rajoy has announced investments of €5 billion over the next four years into at least 20 of Spain's major trunk roads covering around 2,000 kilometres.
The cash injection will involve modernising and repairing heavily-frequented highways and motorways to improve safety and adapt to the ever-increasing volumes of traffic, given that the last 20 or 25 years have seen a sharp rise in vehicles on the roads – many of which have not undergone any significant works in this time.
Rajoy says franchise firms will be responsible for maintenance of these 20 or so roads for the next 30 years in a formula he describes as part-private and part-public investment – a scheme he says 'works very successfully' in several European countries and has seen a rise in road-building and improvements from 5% to 90% in the past decade.
This formula will reportedly create 189,200 new jobs which, over the next four years, will bring in €3bn in tax income, effectively refunding the State 60% of its initial investment.
He is not clear whether this will involve more toll roads, although plans are afoot for a State buy-back of several loss-making toll motorways over the next few years, mostly those in the Madrid area.
Additionally, the AP-7 motorway stretch managed by Aumar, S.A. - running from San Juan (Alicante province) to Algemesí (Valencia province), a distance of around 200 kilometres – will become toll-free from New Year's Day in the year 2020.