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Not such a heavy toll on M6 after all

AGENDA - COMMENT

THE M6 Toll Road has been no stranger to controversy. Perhaps that's not a surprise given it's the country's first tolled motorway, it cuts through patches of green belt, and toll rates are rising as quickly as steel prices.

So when the Government talks about the future of road pricing and raising barriers to private financing of transport infrastructure projects, the M6 Toll does not jump to mind as an exemplar.

But that has all changed. The owner of the motorway has pulled off a public relations coup that really will help the construction industry sell the benefits of private financing of projects.

Having borne all the financial risk associated with construction of the £900 million motorway, owner Macquarie Infrastructure Group is about to refinance on better terms.

Instead of pocketing all the loot, as perhaps the public might expect, £112 million is being released to fund fur ther road improvements in the West Midlands.

This brings tangible gains for local people because the improvements tackle road congestion. Equally importantly the cash will allow dual carriageway from the M54 to M6 to be built, exactly what West Midland multi-modal studies recommended a few years ago.

Now that is a win for the public, the construction industry and the Government.