Droichead an Nascbhóthair Thiar
West-Link bridges from underneath
|Crosses||River Liffey, R109 regional road|
|Construction start||1987 (1st span)
2000 (2nd span)
|Construction end||1990 (1st span)
2003 (2nd span)
|Toll||Barrier-less toll (operated by eFlow)|
The West-Link (Irish: Droichead an Nascbhóthair Thiar) is a toll bridge (actually twin bridges) on the M50 motorway to the west of Dublin, Ireland, operated by Emovis (trading as eFlow) for Transport Infrastructure Ireland.
The bridge crosses the River Liffey at a point known as the Strawberry Beds. On the motorway it starts at a point approximately 2 km south of junction 6 (Blanchardstown) and runs to a point almost immediately north of junction 7 (Palmerstown). It is 385 metres long, and at its highest elevation it is approximately 42 metres above the river. Figures from 2005 indicated that the bridge was carrying an average of 98,000 vehicles per day. The bridge is the only Liffey crossing between Chapelizod and Lucan Bridge (both of which are narrow two-lane structures) and thus it carries a large amount of traffic passing between the north and south Dublin suburbs.
Since 30 August 2008, tolling has been by means of number plate recognition via overhead gantries. Since 2013, the toll is €2.10 for cars on a tag account, €2.60 for cars whose number plates have been registered with eFlow on a video account, and €3.10 for unregistered cars. Unregistered vehicles can pay at Payzone outlets, by calling eFlow customer service or by paying on the eFlow website. Drivers who fail to pay receive escalating fines, depending on how long the toll remains unpaid.
Prior to 29 August 2008, tolling was usually by cash payment at a toll plaza to the former operators NTR plc. A prepaid tag system, Eazy Pass, was also used since the early 2000s but was not barrier-free unlike the present arrangements.
The tolling remains a single point operation.
The bridge was constructed as part of the first phase of the M50 motorway, and it and the section of motorway associated with it (junctions 6-7) were the first section of the M50 to open in 1990. Built by NTR plc (then called National Toll Roads plc) under a deal with Dublin County Council, the bridge was an early example of public private partnership (although that term was not used at the time) and was the first section of toll motorway to open in the State. In return for constructing and maintaining the bridge NTR received the right to operate it as a toll bridge for thirty years. Originally a single span structure, a second span was completed and opened in September 2003. In 2007, the National Roads Authority reached a deal with NTR to buy out the toll bridge effective 1 August 2008. However, for traffic management purposes, a toll remained, a situation prompting widespread and ongoing criticism. NTR continued to operate the bridge until 29 August 2008 when, at midnight eFlow took over. The toll plaza barriers were at that point replaced by overhead gantry based electronic tolling.
- "West-Link Bridge - Design and Engineering". Bridges of Dublin. Dublin City Council. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
- "NTR publishes West-Link figures - RTÉ News". Rte.ie. 25 July 2005. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- "M50 Second West-Link Toll Bridge". National Roads Authority. Archived from the original on 28 February 2007.
- "West-Link Bridge - History". Bridges of Dublin. Dublin City Council. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
- "No barrier means no jobs for 120 toll-bridge staff". Irish Independent. 28 August 2008. Retrieved 15 December 2016.