Goodbye Toll-Free Highways

Goodbye Toll-Free HighwaysGoodbye Toll-Free Highways

All highways in the city will be charged a toll by the end of the Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2016) and the bill in this regard has been sent to the Majlis (Parliament) for ratification.

The proposal was thoroughly appraised and analyzed by the Tehran Transport and Traffic Organization, especially the prospect of traffic jams, before it was finalized, said Eghbal Shakeri, head of the Transportation Committee of the Tehran City Council, the Persian language ‘Iran’ newspaper reported.

Public works and infrastructure need maintenance and renovation at regular intervals which are a costly affair. Highways and freeways are not an exception. The construction, extension, maintenance and operational costs of highways, roads, bridges and tunnels are collected directly or indirectly from the people.

Two alternative methods, other than the traditional method of directly collecting toll from drivers passing through the toll roadways, are under consideration. Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system or license plate-number identification by cameras installed at key junctions. The Tehran Municipality prefers the latter method.

But the moot question is: whatever be the method of toll collection, will it outweigh the potential consequences of traffic congestion as well as the mental stress on people due to the traffic jams, which are bound to occur?

It is said in 2013, 1.2 billion hours were wasted in traffic jams every day in Tehran. The figure was 20 million wasted hours daily in 2009.

The toll charges will vary, depending on the type of vehicle, while public transport, taxis and ambulances are exempted. The toll charge is also estimated to start from $0.09, and vary according to hours and days in the week, Shakeri added.

Niayesh, Resalat and Tohid tunnels as well as Sadr and Imam Ali Highways are areas identified to launch the toll fee, he said, and stressed the importance of close cooperation between the police and the municipalities to provide the requisite wherewithal to carry out the plan.

 Rapid Development

Highways in Tehran have developed rapidly and experts say the newly-built carriageways are in conformity with international standards. In the past eight years, Tehran saw the construction of 30 km of highways annually. In spring this year (started March 21), 24 km of roadways were added to the sprawling megacity.

From 304 km of highway networks in 2005-2006, the figure has reached 550 km now with the addition of 246 km.

Completion of the 54 km Shahid Hemmat Highway, from one of the easternmost points in the city up to the westernmost point, the 38 km Imam Ali Highway from the northernmost point to the southernmost point, the Sadr layered highway, one of the busiest, are examples of the rapid growth of highways in the city that is home to 12 million people.