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On Feb. 1, Toronto-area drivers will be hit with yet another increase in tolls on the privately-operated Highway 407. The hikes come on top of earlier increases ranging from 30 to 200 per cent, depending on time of day.

When the provincial Conservative government privatized the highway in 1999, they promised toll increases would rise with inflation. Years of costly legal battles have left the private consortium with free rein to raise fees. That makes the 99-year lease awarded by the Tories a license to print money.

Last fall, the private consortium (Canada’s SNC-Lavalin, Australia’s Macquarie Infrastructure Group, and Spain’s Cintra Soncesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte) posted a healthy third-quarter profit of $36.7 million.

Those same consortium players are all in the running to reap new profits on a stretch of Québec highway being built as a P3 toll road. A request for proposals for Autoroute 30, which will bypass Montreal, closed Jan 17. Macquarie, SNC-Lavalin and Cintra all submitted bids.

(With files from Public Works Financing, Land Line Magazine and the Toronto Star)