Nebraska and Wyoming lawmakers find tolling I-80 tempting

| 12/28/2006

 A Nebraska state senator wants to form a four-state committee to discuss the possible tolling of Interstate 80.

State Sen. Tom Baker, R-Trenton, told The Associated Press recently that projected numbers make it tempting to consider a tolled I-80 through Nebraska.

Baker, chairman of the Nebraska Legislature's Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, would like to see a committee of officials from Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa and Wyoming study the issue, according to The AP.

I-80 is, of course, an existing interstate and therefore cannot not be tolled without amendments to federal law.

Tolling existing interstates has recently appeared on the Bush administration's wish list in the way of a pilot program. Some other regions in the country are applying to be part of that federal pilot program to toll existing interstates, but so far none of the states in Baker's proposed study group are among them.

Wyoming State Sen. Michael Von Flattern, R-Gillette, said two weeks ago that his state could use a boost in transportation revenue that a tolled I-80 could fetch.

So far, both Von Flattern in Wyoming and Baker in Nebraska have said they do not favor leasing the interstate to private investors. They both said in separate newspaper reports that they would prefer their respective state departments of transportation maintain control.