Success and Failure in Public–Private Partnerships
Chapter 7: Spain
The first serious attempt at providing Spain with a motorway network was made in 1928, under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. Following the example set by Mussolini's Fascist government in Italy (as Bel, 2012, has argued), the Spanish executive authorised its Ministry of Public Works to grant private concessions for the construction and operation of roads along those corridors that connected Madrid to various strategic cities in the periphery, including Valencia (expected to become Madrid's port on the Mediterranean seaboard), Irun (so as to connect Madrid to the south of France) and Oviedo and Gijon (providing a tourist gateway to the Cantabrian coast and access to Madrid's port on the northern seaboard). The model proposed in this ambitious project foresaw the mixed financing of the infrastructure, with government subsidies being used to supplement the revenue collected from tolls charged to users. However, the project remained just that, as the country's ordinary road network was still far from complete and the demand remained insufficient to support infrastructure funding of the dimension envisaged. Indeed it would have required an unrealistically large commitment from the public Treasury in the form of grants. Later, in 1953, also under a military dictatorship (this time led by General Franco), the government introduced the first legislation (Law 26/1953 on Toll Road Construction) permitting private sector participation in the development of Spain's infrastructure.
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