Ontario government loses to private firm in toll road case - again

| 2/28/2006

Ontario’s provincial government hasn’t fared too well in its fight against the consortium collecting the tolls on the 407 Express Toll Route in the Toronto area.

Premier Dalton McGuinty and his Liberal Party had another court setback this past week, with an appeals court ruling in favor of the private business.

The government claimed it should not be responsible for penalizing toll dodgers because the toll road is operated privately through a lease.

The operators of the 407 ETR – which includes Spanish and Australian firms that have majority control – claimed the Ontario government should have the responsibility of punishing the perpetrators by withholding license renewals.

Officials from the company running the 407 ETR called the recent court ruling a victory, according to Today’s Trucking.

Various courts along the way have favored the private business in cases with the government about the 407 ETR, including a case where the government sued to regain control of the toll collection.

The province signed over the rights to the 67-mile toll road for 99 years in 1999 to a private consortium that includes a Spanish company, Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructures de Transport S.A., and an Australian company, Macquarie Infrastructure Group.

The 407 ETR is a high tech operation, complete with high-occupancy vehicle lanes and electronic toll collection.

The Cintra-Macquarie partnership operates other toll roads in North America. The consortium operates a 99-year lease and collects tolls on the Chicago Skyway and was the high bidder for a 75-year lease on the Indiana Toll Road. State senators in Indiana are set to make a decision on that $3.85 billion deal this week.