Why it matters. The first motorway without toll barrier opens in the Allier

Will the traditional traffic jams at toll gates soon disappear? In any case, this dream becomes reality this Friday on the brand new A79 motorway, which opens in the Allier. Part of it, on the initiative of the concession company Aliae, a subsidiary of the French construction giant Eiffage, over 30 kilometers, will not include any toll barrier: this is what is called a “free flow “.

What is it about ?

“Motorists will no longer have to stop at a toll barrier and will be able to drive from end to end” on this new motorway, A79, according to a model which “prefigures what motorways will be like in five to ten years “, explains Isabelle Lacharme, operational director of Aliae.

This first portion will be free, before the total opening, scheduled for October, on the 88 kilometers of this axis which will cross the Allier from east to west. The A79 replaces the RN79 or RCEA, nicknamed “death road” because of the many fatal accidents recorded. It will be operated by the motorway company APRR, of which Eiffage is the majority shareholder.

Only the entrance and exit toll gates of the A71, to which it is connected, are maintained. Along the route, six gantries have been installed, comparable to those planned to collect the late ecotax, equipped with specific technology, with license plate recognition cameras.

Vinci is experimenting with the system on two portions in the center-west, but no other project is yet planned on other existing axes. In question: it is less interesting to implement when, for example, a very large number of foreign motorists take a section, or when the crowds are concentrated on a few days in the year. In other words, the monster traffic jams that punctuate the A6 and A7 each summer will not disappear anytime soon…

What benefits?

The operation saves “16 hectares of surface” and reduces carbon emissions linked to stops, according to the company which has developed its own software in-house to design this highway, the cost of which amounts to 548 million euros.

On the A13-A14, the promises are dizzying: in addition to the precious minutes regained, Sanef estimates that the end of these toll caps will save 9.5 million liters of fuel – the equivalent of the annual consumption than 11,000 vehicles, or nearly 20 million euros, at current petrol price levels. Unconsumed fuel that will, in passing, reduce automobile pollution.

Deterrent fines

The law that authorizes the establishment of this “free flow” includes dissuasive fines for dazed motorists. The increase due in the event of non-payment of the toll is thus raised to a maximum of 375 euros. And again: this can reach 7,500 euros in the event of repetition of the offense six or more times over a year.

The “free flow” is already widely used abroad: South Africa, Chile, Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, Sweden adopted it a long time ago. Rather successfully: 96% of people pay spontaneously with this system, as explained by Arnaud Quemard, director of Sanef, au Parisian.

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