Alabama governor stumping for tolls, privatization of roads

| Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Gov. Bob Riley has a message for residents in Alabama who want better roads: consider tolls roads or public-private partnerships.

The governor recently took his message on the road to Madison, AL. The northern Alabama community is facing funding problems for needed road work spurred by rapid growth.

Riley said revenue collected from the state’s fuel tax cannot keep up with road and bridge needs, The Huntsville Times reported. He also said that matching funds from the federal government aren’t enough to cover the gap.

To make matters worse, toll advocates say the lack of revenue from fuel taxes is an even bigger problem because of soaring costs for construction materials, including asphalt, concrete and steel.

Riley said increasing taxes on gasoline and diesel is not the answer. A better solution could be toll roads, he said.

Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta recently shared that sentiment. Mineta visited the state this spring to stand by Riley and tout the benefits of tolls over more fuel taxes.

“We can no longer rely on the gas tax as the sole means to fund road building and other transportation needs,” Mineta told a transportation conference in April, The Associated Press reported.

Toll roads are likely to draw consideration once the Alabama Legislature convenes its regular session in January 2008.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Alabama in 2007, click here.

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