A Utah House panel has approved a bill that would allow the state to
partner with private groups to build toll roads.
The House Transportation Committee voted 11-3 Feb. 20 to advance a bill
that would give the Utah Department of Transportation permission to join with a
private partner to finance and build toll roads in exchange for keeping toll
If the bill is signed into law, the first likely candidate could be the
Mountain View Corridor, stretching 35 miles from Interstate 80 to Pleasant
Grove. At this point, funding the road remains the biggest obstacle to its
Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse, said his bill – SB80 – may offer the
best option to complete the project, and others like it.
“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 recently told The
Associated Press. “It’s the difference between a toll road and no
Transportation planners in the state say 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.
The controlling contract would put UDOT 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.
The bill, which passed the Senate earlier this month, has been sent to
the full House. If approved there, it would move to Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. for