Having decided not to remove the toll for the Soller tunnel before the start of the tourism season, the Council of Majorca now says that the tunnel will be free as of 1 September. The Council also says that it will pay the tunnel's concessionaire 15.4 million euros; the concession runs until 2022.
Miquel Ensenyat, the Council's president, and Balearic president Francina Armengol have reached an agreement for the two institutions to right "an historical injustice" for the people of Soller, Fornalutx and Escorca as well as residents in neighbouring municipalities. Armengol said yesterday that the concession granted to Globalvia Infraestructuras was established at the time of the tunnel's inauguration in 1997 and was in exchange for the cost of its construction. This resulted, she observed, in "the most expensive toll in Spain" in relation to its length.
Armengol added that it was the PSOE-led government of Francesc Antich which introduced the subsidy for Soller residents. This represents an annual cost of around 1.5 million euros. Once the need for the subsidy ends, the Balearic government will allocate funding to tunnel maintenance.
Ensenyat explained that the payment being offered to the concessionaire relates to the price of the infrastructure and the five years that remain on the contract. The amount has been established by an external valuer and been verified by the Council's own technical reports.
The councillor for infrastructures, Mercedes Garrido, is hopeful that the 15.4 million will be accepted. The company initially sought compensation of 33 million. "If agreement cannot be reached, the matter will go to the courts," she admitted.
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