Anyone who visits Dublin, or even flies in or out of Dublin airport, is familiar with the M50. Despite being a relatively large carriageway with three lanes in each direction, the traffic is often reduced to a crawl. Dubliners, with their keen sense of irony, sometimes boast that they have “the biggest car park in Europe.”
A key reason for the snarled traffic is the toll halfway along the road. Every morning, tens of thousands of vehicles line up at the booth, causing enormous tailbacks and costing many man hours.
For some time, citizens have demanded that the government un-toll the road and buy out the private company that holds the contract. In the latest twist, the private company suggested it would cost close to $1 billion for them to leave.
In this case, the Irish government could learn a great deal from America, and especially from the great state of Louisiana.
Back in the 1930s, Huey Long was elected governor on a promise to un-toll the bridges. One greedy company refused Long’s fair offer to buy back the Highway 11 Lake Pontchartrain Bridge.
Long accepted their decision — and exercised his right to build a free bridge a short distance away. Unable to compete, the private company eventually sold their $5.5 million bridge and access roadways to Louisiana for $940,000.