An infrastructure development panel in the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry unveiled Monday a new road building outline, urging the government to curb construction of toll roads.

The outline of the five-year plan, which begins in fiscal 2003, says there is a need to cut back on construction of toll roads because growth in traffic volume is decelerating, while the overall number of highways is rising.

It calls on the government to reflect on its poor earnings results for such loss-making highway projects as the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge and Tokyo Bay Aqualine.

The more than 4 trillion yen in interest-bearing debts held by the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority should be reduced as early as possible to minimize any future burdens on the tax-paying public, according to the panel.

The outline says the government should work hard to promote the use of toll roads by devising flexible fee schedules, such as nighttime discounts.

It also urges the government to make more efficient investments on road projects over the next 10 years.

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