Months after the Utah Legislature authorized the state’s transportation
department to consider tolls as an option for new roads, a state lawmaker wants
the state to partner with private groups to build toll roads.
Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse, is drafting a bill that would allow
a private partner to finance and build the road in exchange for keeping the
If approved, the first likely candidate could be the Mountain View
Corridor, stretching 35 miles from the Salt Lake City International Airport to
Pleasant Grove. At this point, funding the road remains the biggest obstacle to
“If we want to see the Mountain View Corridor anytime sooner than
perhaps 20 years down the road, this certainly becomes a much more interesting
option,” Killpack told The Associated Press. “It’s the difference between a toll road and no road.”
State transportation officials said Utah would need $16.5 billion
during the next 25 years to keep up with business and traffic demands.
Toll road supporters say the state’s 24.5-cent-per-gallon tax on
gasoline and diesel is losing its buying power. Increasing the motor fuels tax
has been suggested but is not considered a viable option. Additionally, federal
funding for highways doesn’t fill the void.
Killpack’s plan still would require public funds because toll revenue
isn’t expected to provide enough bonding capacity to cover a project’s full
cost, The AP reported.
The controlling contract would put the Utah Department of
Transportation in charge of determining the toll rate, when to increase it and
what the cap would be, Killpack said. The length of the contract would be
determined on a case-by-case basis.
The state would retain a buy-out option and the Legislature would have
final bid approval.
Killpack’s effort is expected to come up for consideration in the
legislative session that begins this month.