New legislation could mean new toll roads for California

| 5/9/2005

If a proposed amendment makes its way through California’s state legislature, it could mean more privatized toll roads and truck-only lanes for the state’s highway system.

Billed as a financing mechanism by its supporters, the bill, AB 850, would expand on a California pilot program to build a limited number of toll roads by allowing the California Department of Transportation to partner with private companies to build new roads.

The Los Angeles Daily News reported that while the state would own the new roads, the private companies would be allowed to charge tolls on them for up to 35 years. At that point, the state would assume control of the tolls.

The plan is part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Go California” package, designed to speed up construction and prevent the use of transportation funds to fill gaps in the state’s general budget fund in the future.

Supporters of the bill say it could result in a variety of new roads aimed at easing congestion in California, such as truck-only lanes coming from California’s ports and elevated expressways that would be built above existing freeways.

Existing freeways would continue to remain free under the program.

The bill is currently making its way through the state legislature and is gaining support from both Republicans and Democrats.