Nevada panel endorses toll road plan

| 6/17/2008

In hopes of tapping into public-private partnerships to build toll lanes in Las Vegas, a special panel has decided to call on Nevada state lawmakers to take action.

The Nevada Transportation Board has endorsed a plan to help reduce a huge funding shortfall for roadwork throughout the state. The board, chaired by Gov. Jim Gibbons, will include the plan to build express lanes and charge tolls on the Interstate 15 corridor through Las Vegas among the state DOT’s legislative proposals that can be considered by lawmakers during the 2009 regular session.

Advocates for privatization say the tool is an option for the state because of a shortage of funds available to build needed roads. They cite rising costs for construction materials, including asphalt. Also, the governor is opposed to increasing taxes to pay for such projects.

Opponents say more conventional alternatives should be pursued. Boosting the state’s fuel tax rates is one possibility.

If approved by the Nevada Legislature, the pilot project would be located on the state’s busiest stretches of road. The 19-mile demonstration project would be composed of U.S. 95 to Interstate 15; I-15 to the Interstate 215 Beltway; and Summerlin Parkway to U.S. 95.

Express lanes on the routes already are accessible for passenger vehicles with two or more occupants. The plan endorsed by the Transportation Board would allow free rides for passenger vehicles with three or more occupants. Passenger vehicles with one or two occupants would pay to use the lanes.

Gibbons said the tolling plan is worth a look. The next regular session starts Feb. 2, 2009.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor