The Environment and Communications Committee has approved a four-year transportation plan which calls for major infrastructure improvements around the country, Vísir reports. The construction will be financed by road tolls implemented on main routes around the capital area. Though the meeting was productive, committee members were taken aback by the unexpected appearance of Bergþór Ólason, the committee’s chairman, who had recently taken a voluntary leave of absence due to his involvement in the Klaustur Scandal.
Improvements financed by tolls
Independence Party MP Jón Gunnarsson, the committee’s rapporteur on the matter, stated that the group has approved the plan, which includes “large-scale construction in the next few years” financed “on the basis of road tolls.”
The committee’s approval means the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration can now hire contractors or begin construction on many projects scheduled for this year that are to be financed without road tolls. Drivers will likely not see tolls until next year, however, as instituting them will require two more parliamentary bills in the spring and fall sessions.
Jón says it is not yet clear which road projects will be financed by the tolls, but they will likely be improvements to main routes in the capital area, where accidents are more frequent and “the need is really to go into large-scale construction to improve the road network.”
Klaustur MP not welcome in committee
Many committee members were not happy with the presence of Centre Party MP Bergþór Ólason at the meeting. While Bergþór is the committee’s chairman, he has just recently returned from a voluntary leave of absence due to his involvement in the Klaustur Scandal. Bergþór was one of six MPs recorded uttering sexist, homophobic, and ableist remarks about colleagues at a Reykjavík bar in November.
MPs from the Social Democratic Alliance, the Reform Party, and the Pirate Party who were present at the meeting criticised the fact that Bergþór should attend the meeting. Helga Vala Helgadóttir, Social-Democratic Alliance MP, proposed the committee vote on a new chairperson. The proposal was dismissed, and the matter was said to be under the jurisdiction of party chairs, who are responsible for appointing MPs to committees.