MADRID, Feb 16 (Reuters) - The Spanish government will take over seven bankrupt toll roads, government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said on Friday, a move that will load around 3 billion euros ($3.7 billion) on the state deficit although this may be set off by concession sales.
The government had been trying for the past three years to negotiate an arrangement with creditors to help prop up several struggling toll roads while avoiding saddling the state deficit with their debt.
The road operators struggled to attract enough traffic during a long economic downturn. Though Spain exited recession over three years ago, the highways have also had to compete in many instances with toll-free roads running alongside them.
The government recently said it expected to fetch between 700 million euros ($872.34 million) and 1 billion euros after awarding new concessions to reduce the impact of around 3 billion euros on the state coffers.
Spokesman Mendez de Vigo did not say on Friday how much the takeover would imply for the deficit. ($1 = 0.8024 euros) (Reporting By Jesús Aguado; Editing by Sonya Dowsett)