Privately-funded road tunnels cost the taxpayer millions more in fees

The Dutch government’s decision 25 years ago to finance a major road tunnel near Rotterdam with private money has cost the taxpayer far more than expected, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Tuesday.

A consortium lead by Postbank (now ING) put €136m into the project to build the tunnel on teh A15 motorway at Alblasserdam. However, by the end of the contract in 2021, the project will have generated €335m for the consortium in government fees, the Financieele Dagblad said.

The paper bases its claims on documents obtained under freedom of information legislation.

Traffic flows


The FD reported earlier that the private finance contract signed for the Wijker tunnel under the North Sea Canal will have cost the Dutch state €722m by the time its contracts with private sector investors have ended. The banks paid €185m to build it.


In both projects, the government agreed to pay the banks a fee for every vehicle using the tunnel. This has proved very lucrative because many more cars are using the tunnels than forecast.


The finance ministry told the paper that the financing system used to build both tunnels is no longer being used. Nevertheless, the FD says there are some 20 infrastructure projects in the pipeline which will involve private investment.


The cabinet is committed to public private cooperation in infrastructure projects, a spokesman told the paper.

The government’s audit office had warned that the final cost of the Alblasserdam tunnel would be too high in 1989, just as construction was beginning, the FD said.

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