Toll road bill advances in California

| Wednesday, April 09, 2003

The California Senate Appropriations Committee has voted 8-3 on April 7 to support a bill that would allow private companies to build a toll road in the Los Angeles area.

SB138, introduced by state Sen. W.J. Knight, R-Palmdale, specifically calls for a new highway to relieve traffic problems along state Highway 138. The bill now moves to the Senate floor, where it could be voted on as early as Thursday, April 10. However, a spokesman at the state Senate said the bill would not likely be voted on until after April 21, when legislators return from their Easter break.

The new highway called for in the bill would lie in the Highway 138 corridor between Palmdale and Victorville in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. The Los Angeles Times said the freeway-style road would run along Avenue P-8 extending across the Antelope Valley's east side.

Under the bill, the company building the road could collect tolls to recover its costs, and would lease the road from the state for up to 35 years. However, California would retain ownership of the road.

An amendment added to the bill March 25 would prohibit the department from closing Route 138 upon completion of the toll road and would also require the Legislature's approval of any agreement to build the toll road.

Notes attached to the bill indicated that accidents and fatalities on the highway have increased in recent years, spurring the call for the toll road proposal.

--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor

Mark H. Reddig can be reached at mreddig@landlinemag.com.

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