Nevada brings in consultant to help panel examine highway funding

| 12/8/2005

A new panel appointed by Gov. Kenny Guinn to discuss Nevada’s highway needs and how to compensate for funding shortfalls will hire an expert to help with its study.

By next June, the panel will start preparing recommendations for the legislative session, which begins in 2007. Nevada lawmakers do not meet for a regular legislative session in even-numbered years.

To help them get ready, the task force, formed earlier this year by the state’s Transportation Board, will bring in a consultant – Tom Warne – to help out with topics that include: the impact of congestion relief; reviewing project costs; and evaluations of funding options, such as tax increases.

Warne formerly headed the Utah Department of Transportation and was a deputy chief of the Arizona Department of Transportation. He also served as president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Guinn, the Transportation Board chairman, told The Associated Press the state is now involved in its largest highway construction program ever – but by 2008 many more projects will be needed to keep up with Nevada’s rapid growth.

Officials with the Nevada Department of Transportation have said there’s enough funding on hand for the current construction cycle. However, from 2008 to 2014, there’s an expected budget shortfall of $2.4 billion for the roadwork.

Guinn has said if the panel determines the public won’t support a tax increase, the highway construction and improvement program probably would have to be scaled back, The AP reported. He also said the highway department’s shortfall estimate likely is conservative.