Privatized toll roads could be in Nevada’s future according to a
consultant studying the state’s highway needs and how to make up for funding
Consultant Dwight Bower told a state task force that negotiating a
public-private partnership might be the way to go to pay for roadwork, The Associated Press reported. Such
partnerships to allow private businesses to operate toll roads are sprouting up
across the U.S. Some are drawing criticism because foreign companies are
profiting from the deals.
Bower, who directed the Idaho Department of Transportation for nine
years, said teaming with a private group might help resolve a looming $3.8
billion shortfall in Nevada’s budget for road construction and maintenance.
Under such partnerships, a private entity typically operates and
maintains roads in exchange for keeping toll revenue.
By June, the Nevada task force, which was appointed by Gov. Kenny
Guinn, will start preparing recommendations for the legislative session that
begins in 2007. Nevada lawmakers do not meet for regular legislative sessions
in even-numbered years.
The panel is trying to assess transportation needs and costs and set
priorities – and determine whether Nevada residents would support tax increases
to generate money for road projects.
Officials with the Nevada Department of Transportation have said
there’s enough funding on hand for the current construction cycle, The AP reported. However, from 2008 to
2014, there’s an expected budget shortfall of $3.8 billion for the roadwork.