Arizona Senate approves tolling authorities, privatized rest areas

| 3/26/2008

State senators in Arizona have been dealing with at least six bills related to tolling in recent weeks.

Senators approved two of those bills on Thursday, March 20, and sent them to the House for consideration.

One bill approved by the Senate was SB1420, which would authorize the creation of regional public-highway authorities that can issue bonds and collect tolls to build new highways.

In addition to the bonding component, the bill would authorize highway authorities in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties to partner with private firms for construction of new roads, bill sponsor Sen. Jay Tibshaeny, R-Chandler, told Land Line.

“The authorities would be formed by counties or cities and allow the private sector to build the road and collect the tolls,” Tibshaeny said.

Each public-highway authority would be a separate political subdivision from the state government or municipality and would be required to hold public hearings on construction proposals.

The related bill approved by the Senate was SB1466, which would authorize the Arizona Department of Transportation to lease public rest areas to private investors.

State lawmakers have dealt with at least four other measures related to tolling, including SB1465, which was killed by a vote on the Senate floor. It would have required ADOT to establish public-private partnerships to plan, finance, build and maintain transportation projects.

Other road-related bills being considered include:

  • SB1471, currently in the Senate Rules Committee, would authorize ADOT to convert high-occupancy vehicle lanes to high-occupancy toll lanes.
  • SB1498, killed by a Senate vote on Tuesday, March 25, would have authorized ADOT to enter into public-private partnerships for the construction, financing, operation and maintenance of transportation projects.
  • SB1503, currently in the Senate Rules Committee, would authorize private investors to build additional lanes on existing highways and implement tolls on those lanes. High-occupancy vehicles, low-emission vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles would get unrestricted access to the lanes under the provision.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Arizona in 2008, click here.

– By David Tanner, staff writer