, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, February 23, 2018
A bill nearing completion at the Utah statehouse would expand the state’s authority to collect tolls on any roadway.
Utah law already allows the use of tolls to cover state expenses. Tolling authority is limited to new roads.
The House Transportation Committee voted 9-1 to advance a Senate-approved bill to remove the restriction on roads that can be tolled.
Legislative approval would not be necessary for any project to move forward. Instead, the Utah Department of Transportation would be responsible for making decisions on tolls.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, is the bill sponsor. He spoke about the bill prior to the committee vote. He told committee members congestion issues continue to worsen around the state despite efforts over the past couple of decades to address the issue.
“Here’s the reality check for us. This is just after we have spent billions and billions and billions of dollars on roads,” he said. “We’ve given it our best shot over the last 20 years.”
Niederhauser said that the state needs to start preparing now for big changes in how transportation revenue is raised. He refers to fuel tax collection as “obsolete.”
He added that $600 million already is routed from the state’s general fund to roads to help cover costs.
“We have to deal with the reality there will be some sort of vehicle-miles-driven or tolling to pay for roads.”
Rick Clasby, executive director of the Utah Trucking Association, said motor carriers “catastrophically hate tolls.”
“(Tolling) is a frustrating way for our business to pay for road use. We struggle with getting payment back from our customers. Some of our members would even say it is impossible.”
He said that his group is on record as supporting increases in fuel tax.
SB71 would also “modernize” toll collection. Specifically, electronic collection methods would be authorized to collect money.
The state DOT would be authorized to use license plate scanning technology to charge a toll on any state road. The agency also would be permitted to use the technology to impose penalties for nonpayment.
The bill awaits further consideration in the House.
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