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Tolls stop on bridge after 1.45b yuan in illegal fees

By Xu Chi (Shanghai Daily)

08:21, October 08, 2012

TRAFFIC authorities in Henan Province announced that they would stop charging tolls on a bridge starting today, after a national investigation showed that the bridge illegally charged 1.45 billion yuan in tolls after paying all its debts in 1996.

The 5,550-meter-long Zhengzhou Yellow River Bridge played an important role as a link between Zhengzhou and Xinxiang City in Henan since it was opened on September 30, 1986.

It has shortened the distance between the two cities by about 13 kilometers but it charged each passing car 10 yuan in tolls, which sparked complaints from local residents, reported China News Service yesterday.

According to a nationwide audit on tolls in 18 provinces and cities by China's National Audit Office published in 2008, construction on the bridge started in 1984 with a total investment reaching 178 million yuan, and enough tolls had been collected to pay all its debts in 1996.

The audit results showed the bridge has illegally charged 1.45 billion yuan in tolls since 1996. The result has driven some lawmakers to seek removal of toll checkpoints on the bridge in the past few years but the government didn't respond to the calls, CNS reported.

Many local residents said they were glad to hear about the cancellation of the tolls as many have long called the bridge a "blood sucker" after the audit surfaced in 2008.

But some experts told CNS that they worried about the bridge's condition as more vehicles were expected to use the bridge after drivers no longer needed to pay tolls.

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