Mississippi bill would use tolls as new revenue source

| 1/29/2007

A Mississippi state lawmaker has renewed his push for legislation that would create tolls along some roads and bridges in the state and give the state another tool to raise revenue.

Similar proposals have been offered each of the past four years but none gained approval from both the state’s House and Senate.

The newest effort, offered by Sen. Charlie Ross, R-Brandon, would authorize the Mississippi Transportation Commission, county boards of supervisors and city officials to contract with private industry to construct roads and bridges and collect tolls to pay off the work.

The bill doesn’t spell out specific toll charges. That would be determined by MDOT.

Ross’ effort would require 20 percent of a county’s electorate or 1,500 voters, whichever is less, to call for a referendum on any project.

It also would mandate that alternative routes be available so drivers can avoid paying the tolls. Once the bonds for a project were paid off, that toll would be removed.

The bill – SB2375 – is in the Senate committees on Highways and Transportation, and Finance.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor