This month, tolls were removed from 550 kilometres of high-speed roads in Spain, a move that follows waves of protests and long-term distaste for tolls, but the free ride may not last long because of environmental and budget concerns.
Most of the newly-free roads are in Catalonia and Aragon in the northeast, but a section between Seville and Cadiz in Andalucia is also included. The government had promised to free up more roads, but there are long-term contracts in place with companies that collect the tolls and are responsible for maintenance, a system that has become unpopular.
The Spanish government, while acceding to demands, has made clear it had not planned on the added expense of maintenance. In fact, under pressure from the EU over both deficits and pollution, it had planned to extend tolls to all dual-lane divided highways, including those not part of the expressway system.
The EU pressure continues, and it focused on a system of discouraging pollution by imposing fees, including possibly tolls, on those who add to the pollution, under the slogan 'those who pollute pay' although a pollution-based tax might be substituted for the tolls.