Nevada study group pushing for private toll roads

| 12/18/2007

In hopes of tapping into public-private partnerships to build highways in Nevada, a special panel created by the governor has decided to call on state lawmakers to make it happen.

The study committee, created by Gov. Jim Gibbons, recommended asking the Nevada Legislature to authorize pursuing deals with private groups to build highways.

Plans are to allow private groups to construct additional lanes in highly congested areas to make it easier for drivers to bypass traffic jams for a fee. Among the routes mentioned for possible expansion are Interstate 15 and the Boulder City bypass, The Nevada Appeal reported.

Opponents say more conventional alternatives should be pursued. Boosting the state’s 27-cent-per-gallon tax on diesel fuel is one possibility. The bulk of the added expense would be passed on to over-the-road truckers passing through the state, they say.

Advocates for privatization say the tool is a good option in the state because of the shortage of funds available to build the roads needed. They cite rising costs for construction materials, including asphalt. Also, the governor is opposed to increasing taxes to pay for such projects.

The recommendation for privatization will be forwarded to the Nevada Transportation Board. If the board, chaired by Gibbons, approves of the plan, it will be included among the state DOT’s legislative proposals that can be considered by lawmakers during the 2009 regular session. There is no regular session in Nevada during even-numbered years.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor