Court rules against abolition of tolls on controversial Han River bridge

SUWON, South Korea– The provincial government of Gyeonggi, which surrounds Seoul, lost a legal battle Wednesday to make a Han River bridge toll-free.

The Gyeonggi government has pushed to abolish tolls on the Ilsan Grand Bridge, which connects the province’s Gimpo and Goyang cities, and is the only bridge collecting tolls among 28 bridges on the Han River that runs through Seoul and the province into the Yellow Sea.
Passenger cars, for instance, have to pay a toll of 1,200 won (a little less than one U.S. dollar) to cross the 1.84-km-long bridge built in May 2008.

Lee Jae-myung, chair of the main opposition Democratic Party, declared the bridge toll-free for the sake of “public interests” before resigning as Gyeonggi governor in October last year, and his successor, Kim Dong-yeon of the same party, also promised free passage on the bridge ahead of the June 1 local elections.

But Ilsan Grand Bridge Corp., the operator of the bridge owned by the National Pension Service (NPS), filed a lawsuit against the toll-free passage scheme last year.

The Suwon District Court in Suwon, south of Seoul, ruled against the Gyeonggi provincial government, saying its attempts to nullify the operator of the bridge and its tolls are unlawful.

“It is true that tolls are burdensome, but it is difficult to see that the burden is too large to restrict the basic rights of users in relation to their convenience,” the court said, adding the defendant’s administrative actions cannot be recognized as legal.

The Gyeonggi government has sought to acquire the operational rights for the bridge from the NPS before making it toll-free at the requests of Gimpo and Goyang residents and commuters complaining of high bridge tolls.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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