Government keeps back 250 million euros for troubled toll roads

Fund to maintain companies extended as minister insists more turnpikes will be built

The government has set aside some 250 million euros in a compensation fund for beleaguered toll-road operators who have seen soaring losses due to drastic drops in vehicle traffic, Public Works Minister Ana Pastor said on Monday.

The fund — a mechanism that the government uses to pre-pay private operators for essential expenses and is replenished when traffic volume returns — will be extended to 2021, said Pastor.

On Monday EL PAÍS reported that nine operators are on the verge of bankruptcy because of losses they have incurred after they had been given mistaken projections on expropriation costs and vehicle traffic. One company Ferrovial, which operates two “spoke” roads into Madrid, has debts of up to one billion euros spread across 20 banks.

But the minister said that the government still believes in the toll-road concept and has plans for up to four more.

Pastor said that money and the extension of the compensation fund until 2021 are just two solutions to “keep afloat” the toll-road industry.

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