The Roads Acts deal with the provision and operation of toll roads. A road authority may prepare a scheme for the establishment of a system of tolls in respect of the use of a public road. In doing so, it must give special consideration to the question of exemption from tolls under the scheme for
- pedal bikes,
- invalid carriages,
- vehicles especially adapted for physically handicapped persons and
- vehicles providing public passenger transport services.
A scheme shall specify
- the public roads concerned,
- the classes of vehicles and users who must pay the toll,
- classes of road users who are charged tolls in relation to such use,
- estimates of the amounts of tolls that is proposed to charge in respect of the use of the toll road.
The scheme must be accompanied by a explanatory statement setting out its provisions including
- information on the general arrangement for construction, maintenance and operation of the road,
- payment of cost and construction,
- maintenance and operation,
- estimates of capital cost and
- estimates of the volume and kind of traffic that will use it.
The toll scheme may be amended. The making of the scheme in relation to a regional or local road is reserved function.
The National Road Authority before adopting a scheme prepared in relation to a national road must send the copy of the appropriate authority and seek representations which it must have regard to making of the representations as a reserved function.
A proposed road toll scheme must be publicised in a newspaper circulating the area. It must indicate times and places during which the scheme may be inspected. At least two weeks must be allowed to make representations. If there is an objection, the road authority shall cause a hearing to be held into the matters to which the objection relates. A report is made based on the recommendations of the persons appointed to make the hearing.
The toll scheme adopted by the road authority shall come into force with modification if any, made by the road authority as it determines. Notice of the making of the toll scheme is to be published.
A road authority may charge and collect tolls in such amounts as may be specified in byelaws made under the powers below. It may provide buildings, structures, works and apparatus as it considers necessary in connection with charging and collection of tolls. It may enter agreements in relation to collection of tolls authorising their collection.
There is provision for modification and revocation of a toll scheme. The scheme and procedure is broadly similar to that in respect of making the scheme.
The roads authority may make byelaws in relation to the operation and management of a toll road. The National Roads Authority is to consult with the appropriate road authority when making byelaws in relation to a national road.
Byelaws may specify the amount of the tolls charges, charges referable to classes, times of the year, days of the year and times. It may provide for issue, inspection and collection of tickets, vouchers, permits, tokens and other forms of authorization. It may specify who is liable for the tolls. It may provide that person may not use the road without paying the requisite tolls.
The making of toll bylaws is a reserved function in relation to a regional road or local road. Before making byelaws, the road authority is to publish drafts and give an opportunity for persons to make representations. It is to consider objections and representations before confirming the byelaws. Contravention of the byelaws is an offence.
They shall be exempt from payment of tolls the following:
- ambulance and fire brigade vehicles,
- vehicles used by the members of the Garda Siochana and Defence Forces in the performance of their duties,
- such other classes of vehicles or road users as the Minister designates.
Where road toll scheme is adopted, the road authority may enter into an agreement with another person or entity upon such terms as may be specified to do one or more of the following functions.
- pay some or all of the cost of construction or maintenance, construction, assistance, construction and maintenance
- operate, manage including supervision, operation of system of tolls in respect of the use of the road
- such other ancillary things
The roads authority may enter different agreements with different providers in respect of any of the above services. Entry into an agreement is a reserved function.
Where a toll charge is payable is unpaid for the period specified in the byelaws, a default toll in accordance with the byelaws of not more than the amount specified may be charged and payable. Byelaws may provide that the amount of the default toll which shall be increased by such amount where it is not paid within such period as may be specified.
It ay take into account administrative costs on charging and collecting a default toll. It may specify different amounts in respect of different classes of tolls roads and vehicles.
Where a toll is payable in relation to a vehicle, the registered owner and the person whom the road undertaken concerned can reasonably ascertain keeps and possesses the vehicle in the State are liable.
Where the vehicle is not registered in the State, persons whom the road undertaking concerned can reasonably ascertain, own or keeps or has possession or charge of the vehicle in the state is liable. A person may enter an agreement with the road undertaking in respect of payments of tolls
Each of the above together with the driver of the road whether or not mentioned above is jointly and severally liable to pay the toll. The amount of any toll due and payable is recoverable as a simple contract debt by the road or undertaking in any court of competence jurisdiction.
Notice of charge of a toll may be served by a person on a person by the road undertaking by post where he ordinarily resides or if an address for services has been provided, at that address or where arrangements have been made with the road undertaking by such means as may be set out in those arrangements. It is presumed until a contrary is shown that the defendant received the notice and proceedings, and that the payment of the toll has not been made.
A document signed by an officer of the road undertaking stating that the mechanically propelled vehicles in relation to which proceedings are taken together with photographs with evidence or other evidence from a camera or apparatus for the identification of the vehicle may be produced and is presumptive evidence until the contrary is shown. It is not necessary to show that camera or apparatus is in working order.
Where a road authority may approve apparatus or cameras and the location of them to be set up and operated by the road undertaking having charge of the toll roads for the purpose of recording the date and time of vehicles passing.
A person who fails to pay a toll is guilty of an offence. A person who neglects or refuses to pay obey a lawful instruction or direction of a person authorised by a road or undertaking to provide or operate, manage toll road or collect or charge toll road is guilty of an offence. A person guilty of an offence may be subject to a fine of up to €5,000 or imprisonment up to six months or both.
A road undertaking may for the purpose of charging and collecting payment of tolls have access to licensing records on payment of such fees to cover the administrative costs thereof.
The Minister may make toll regulations for the purpose of the legislation. A toll scheme may provide for the application of monies to the road authority.
Existing scheme, byelaws and agreements under the prior 1979 legislation are continued and are deemed to apply under the new legislation.
The Minister may give policy directives to road authorities regarding the exercise of their functions in relation to toll roads. Copies of the policy directives must be laid before both houses of the Oireachtas. It must be made available by the road authority for inspection by the public. The Minister shall not issue a directive in relation to a particular toll scheme.
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