Kentucky bill would authorize tolls for roads, bridges

| 8/27/2007

A leading state lawmaker in Kentucky wants to give cities and counties authority to issue bonds and create tolls for roads and bridges.

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, has prefiled a bill for consideration during the next regular session that would allow local governments to create public infrastructure authorities that could issue bonds for road and bridge work, privatize projects and place tolls on the projects. The agencies also would have control of state and federal highway money for road maintenance and construction projects.

In the wake of a deadly bridge collapse in Minnesota earlier this month, Williams’ effort is intended to help the state complete bridge repair projects. There are 11 “structurally deficient” bridges in Louisville under re-evaluation, The Courier-Journal in Louisville reported.

Williams also cited the dwindling federal highway fund as another reason to find new ways to fund such projects.

Others say that while charging tolls isn’t a popular option for most people, all options need to be considered for footing the bill for transportation work.

Any authorities would need to be set up by the governor and approved by lawmakers. The groups could decide toll rates and the location of collection booths, The Courier-Journal reported.

If approved, state law would need to be changed to authorize leasing of bridges or highways to private groups.

The bill can come up for consideration in the regular session that begins in January 2008.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor