West Virginia Senate mulls public-private roads bill

| 2/27/2003

A West Virginia Senate committee this week endorsed legislation to encourage private financing of road construction. A similar House bill is in the House Finance Committee.

Senate Finance Committee members unanimously passed to the full Senate Monday a bill permitting private investors to use state and federal highway funds for projects the state can’t afford on its own, the Charleston Daily Mail reported. The road builders could use tolls, among other means, to repay developers.

Under SB362, the state could use up to $12 million of its $600 million annual road budget on such projects.

“It’s one of the few ways we’ve identified to leverage our precious transportation dollars,” the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, told the newspaper.

Like HB2873, the Senate version says no more than 2 percent of the amount of the West Virginia Division of Highways’ competitively bid projects can be dedicated to public-private projects.

Under the measure, DOH would be responsible for all maintenance after a project’s completion. The bill would preclude tolls or user fees on interstate highways or free roads and bridges unless reconstructed at increased capacity.