Mississippi bill would use tolls as new revenue source

| Wednesday, January 28, 2004

A Mississippi state lawmaker is pushing legislation that would create tolls along some roads and bridges in the state. The proposal is intended to give the state another tool to raise revenue during a tight budget year.

A similar bill passed the state Senate last year, but died in the House.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Charlie Ross, R-Brandon, authorizes the Mississippi Transportation Commission, county boards of supervisors and governing boards of municipalities to contract with private industry to construct roads and bridges and collect tolls to pay off the investment.

Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall, a bill supporter, told The Clarion-Ledger he cannot predict at this stage how much the tolls would generate in Mississippi.

“It depends on the project; then you can work up the cost,” he said.

Hall said he expected criticism. Some Mississippians think they pay enough in taxes for roads and bridges, he said.

But Hall said tolls would be a good way to raise revenue for road and bridge improvements where budgets are lean.

He didn’t pinpoint any specific areas to erect tollbooths.

SB2063 will go before the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee.

“Anything having to do with taxations, tolls or fee increases will be looked at real hard by both houses,” Sen. Ed Morgan, R-Hattiesburg, vice chairman of the Senate highway panel, told the newspaper. “It will be a tough road this year.”