Spain tenders €1.36bn highway

The 30-year concession contract will require the private party to build a 49km stretch of the A66 highway, with the winner to be remunerated via availability payments.

Spain’s transport ministry (Fomento) has launched a tender for a €1.36 billion public-private partnership (PPP) to build, operate and maintain a stretch of the A66 highway, known as Autovia de la Plata.

The stretch in question will link Benavente to Zamora, in the north of Spain, over 49 kilometres. The PPP contract will last for 30 years, with construction costs estimated at €267 million. The winner will not be exposed to traffic risk, since it will receive availability payments from the government. Availability payments are public contributions paid in exchange for making an asset available in good condition.

The highway project is part of Spain’s €17 billion infrastructure stimulus plan, which is procuring road and rail projects – including high-speed rail – as PPPs to offset some €6.4 billion of public infrastructure funding cuts announced last year.

All of the projects that form part of the stimulus package will be backed by availability payments. Traditionally, toll roads in Spain have always been exposed to traffic risk, either as real tolls or through the shadow toll system. The latter requires the Spanish authorities to pay a certain amount to the concessionaire based on the road's traffic, freeing users from paying tolls directly.