The National Roads Authority is expected to suffer a net loss of up to €6m from the operation of eight toll roads on the motorway network this year.
NRA chief executive Fred Barry said revenue from its share in public-private partnership (PPP) toll schemes in 2012 would result in a deficit for the State for the first time.
Mr Barry told the Dáil Public Accounts Committee that the State had recorded a net surplus of €2m from the eight PPP tolls in 2011.
The revenue figures exclude tolls from the M50 Westlink, the Eastlink bridge, and the Dublin Port Tunnel, which are directly controlled by the NRA and Dublin City Council.
The sharp turnaround from a net surplus of €2m last year to a projected loss of €6m is due to the first full-year effect of the two PPP contracts for tolls on the M3 at Clonee and Kells and the Limerick Tunnel on which traffic is significantly below expected levels.
Under a controversial traffic guarantee mechanism, the NRA is obliged to compensate the PPP toll operator if certain levels of traffic are not reached.
Mr Barry acknowledged that traffic on many PPP toll schemes, such as the Waterford bypass, were “well below expected levels”.
However, he predicted that the NRA would return to a net surplus from the PPP tolls schemes by 2014.
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