Four things to know about the Saint-Arnoult toll, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this Sunday – France

  • 1 A toll 1,500 years ago, already

  • Hear, good people: travelers did not wait for the rise of the thermal engine and the opening of the A 10 to have to pay their donation in the forest of Yveline. Gentle ladies and pious damoiseaus already had to pay to pass, during the 6th century. Scariberge, niece of Clovis, learned of this the hard way when she undertook, in 535, to take the remains of her martyr husband, Bishop Arnoult, to Tours (Indre-et-Loire). Legend has it that the widow, unable to pay the tax due to the Carnutes de Chartres, buried the deceased on the spot. On his tomb would have grown the village of Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines, long before the creation of the eponymous department. Suffice to say that it is tradition that we convert the Franks here…

  • 2 European Champion

  • With 80,000 daily passages, on average, and more than 160,000 on busy days, the Saint-Arnoult barrier is, according to its manager, Vinci Autoroutes, the largest toll in Europe in terms of attendance.

    No less than 540,000 vehicles cross it, in one direction or the other, during a holiday crossover weekend. An incessant traffic which has led to the doubling of the number of access corridors since its creation. The infrastructure had twenty tracks in 1972. Today there are 39. To accommodate them, the canopy had to be changed in 1994. Michael Herbert.

  • 3 An invisible anthill

  • There is the tip of the iceberg. And there is all this activity that we do not suspect. No less than a hundred employees work at the Saint-Arnoult barrier. Admittedly, they are no longer very numerous to observe the parade of trucks from the top of the checkout booths. Electronic toll collection and contactless payment have erased them from the landscape. But there is everything that is underground: vehicle counting system, reversibility of the lanes which allows about ten of them to be assigned to one or the other direction of traffic according to the forecasts of departures and returns .

    It is also from its Saint-Arnoult control tower that the staff of the Vinci Autoroutes traffic information center monitors, with drones in support, 1,300 km of axes in the Great West to keep informed, at the instant T, users of the slightest incident or slowdown. Which, 50 km south-west of the capital, makes it a strategic node.

  • 4 Always faster

  • Ah! We spent hours smelling the fumes from the exhaust pipes, at the gates of the Chevreuse valley! Approaching the dreaded toll, it was not uncommon to have to swallow 20 km of “accordion-shaped traffic jams”, suitcases loaded on the gallery! We are talking about a time that people under 20 cannot know. Today, it’s 300 meters of tail, maximum. With 96% of payments now automated, a thousand vehicles pass through every hour – four to five times more than before.

    And that’s just the beginning. On eight electronic toll lanes, subscribed motorists already cross the Saint-Arnoult barrier without stopping. Tomorrow, it will probably be the norm: the free flow, tested at the Tours tollgate, makes it possible to identify the license plate of a car traveling at 50 km/h, without it pausing. A performance to drive Bison futé crazy!

    letelegramme Fr Trans

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