Arizona committee resurrects and approves privatization bills

| 2/29/2008

An Arizona Senate committee switched gears this week and approved three bills to clear the way for tolling and public-private partnerships, including two bills that did not receive a passing vote the previous week.

The Senate Transportation Committee met Tuesday, Feb. 26, approving bills SB1420, SB1465 and SB1498. The latter two bills failed to pass Feb. 19 because of tie votes of 2-2.

Committee members voted 4-1 on Tuesday to send SB1465 to the full Senate. The bill would require the Arizona Department of Transportation to create and develop partnerships with private-sector companies to fund transportation projects.

SB1498 also received a 4-1 vote on Tuesday. The bill would allow ADOT to enter into public-private partnerships for the construction of toll roads.

SB1420 was approved Tuesday by a vote of 3-2. It would authorize counties and the state to form special authorities that could use public-private partnerships to finance, construct and operate public highways and toll roads.

All of the bills related to tolling and public-private partnerships, including three others that received committee approval on Feb. 19, must be approved by the full Senate, the House and the governor before they can become law.

The three bills approved by the Senate committee on Feb. 19 were:

SB1466, which would allow the state DOT to privatize rest areas;
SB1503, which would allow private construction of new lanes on existing freeways; and,
SB1471, which would allow ADOT to partner with private businesses to convert high-occupancy-vehicle lanes on Arizona 51 into toll lanes by November 2013.

– By David Tanner, staff writer