THE COMPANY MANAGING road tolls on the high-profile M3 motorway through Dublin and Meath made more than €19million in operating profits in less than seven months.
Eurolink Motorway Operation (M3) Ltd built the 60km dual carriageway, which was opened to drivers on June 4 2010. The route sparked controversy as it passed close to the Hill of Tara archaeological site.
Accounts recently filed show that the firm made an operating profit of €19,420,000 in the seven months between the opening of the motorway and the end of 2010. Its final profit, after tax and interest payments were subtracted, was more than €10million.
This included tolls from an average of 21,004 vehicles using the route every day, and what the firm called “operational payments received from the National Roads Authority to support the motorway.”
The National Roads Authority could not confirm to TheJournal.ie the scale of the payments to Eurolink. However, a spokesperson stressed that the payments were a contractual part of the public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement under which the route was constructed.
He said that payments were made only after certain milestones had been reached, and that the PPP structure was designed to attract investment with minimal risk to the taxpayer.
“It’s almost like a mortgage,” he said. “They [the company] put money up front, they take the risk, they take the value of construction changes. So there’s no risk to the taxpayer.
“In return, we pay them back over time, as long as they reach certain milestones.”
Gordon Deegan reports in the Irish Times that the NRA paid Eurolink Motorway Operation €547,000 between October and December 2010, while the total cost of the motorway’s construction was close to €1billion.