Those looking to drive on Germany’s autobahn are going to have to pay for the privilege, unless they’re German.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced plans to charge all foreigners when they drive on the autobahn in order to recoup a portion of the money needed to maintain the roads. The news comes after weeks of political negotiations between Merkel’s conservative bloc and the Social Democrats. The exact details of the proposed plan have yet to be released.
Not surprisingly, the plan has been met with resistance from those who might have to shell out extra dough. It’s not just foreigners who are against the plan, though, as even many Germans are questioning its sense.
The proposed tolls could rake in roughly $352 million, but as big as that number sounds, it won’t be enough to maintain and improve the aging highways. It’s estimated that 14 percent of Germany’s roads and bridges are already in poor enough condition that they compromise road safety so they’ll need a lot more money to fix the problem.
Neighboring countries are also objecting to the plan under the premise that it’s a threat to Europe’s open borders. The feeling is that once Germany starts charging foreigners to drive their roads, other countries will follow suit. Some countries do already charge for highway usage, like Italy and France where they have tolls.
Part of the problem for Germany is that where the amount of money spent on maintain their infrastructure has decreased over the last few decades, the amount of traffic has been on the rise. Passenger traffic is up 27 percent while freight traffic has increased an even larger 75 percent.
While citizens of neighboring countries are voicing their concerns over the proposed fees, government officials are threatening to sue. Austrian Transport Minister Doris Bures sees the toll as discriminatory against foreign drivers and is threatening to sue in the European Court of Justice.
A final vote on the agreement that would include the toll will happen on December 12th.
Check out this video of Roman rolling through the German countryside and not paying a dime.
Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole also writes for NerdApproved and GeekMom.