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3/6/2006
Australia: Temporary Toll Tunnel Truce
A three month truce lowers the price and reverses some changes that created the Sydney, Australia toll tunnel controversy.

Premier Morris Iemma
Cross City Motorway CEO Graham Mulligan announced today that it would slash the toll on Sydney, Australia's Cross City Tunnel and re-open twelve roads that had been closed to force motorists into the pay tunnel. For the next three months the price to take the controversial road drops from A$3.56 to A$1.78. A quarter of the bus lanes that were either installed or planned to take away general purpose automobile lanes on nearby free roads will be removed.

"Cross City Motorway is fully committed to working co-operatively on long-term solutions for the tunnel project with the Government and the community," Mulligan said.

Public pressure to undo the road changes and lower the toll has been intense. A scathing parliamentary report on mismanagement of the tunnel contract was released last week. New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma expressed his frustration with Mulligan last month, saying into an open microphone, "This [expletive] who's the new CEO of the Cross City Tunnel has been saying 'Oh, well, what controversy? There is no controversy.'"

Opposition Leader Peter Debnam has likewise been pressuring Iemma to reopen all 49 of the affected roads. "Given that his own Minister privately admits something must be done, when will he reopen roads, or is he delaying it for political advantage?" Debnam asked. Only a third of the expected 90,000 daily trips are being made as the road closures have jammed traffic in the Sydney area.



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