Nevada lawmakers resort to tolls for congestion relief

| 6/8/2011

A $400 million bypass to relieve traffic in one Nevada town is closer to reality.

The Nevada Legislature voted Monday, June 6, to approve the state’s first and only toll road around Boulder City. The bill – SB506 – now moves to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s desk.

Aimed at relieving traffic jams created by the opening of the Hoover Dam bypass bridge last fall, the bill would require the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada to partner with a private group to finance a 15-mile toll road.

The alternative route is sought because of increased traffic, namely truck traffic, using U.S. 93 after the opening of the bypass bridge. In recent months, the RTC has gone as far as to pursue a temporary truck ban on the bridge connecting Arizona to Nevada.

Truckers have had a rough go in the area for the past decade. Truck traffic has been prohibited from accessing the Hoover Dam since 9/11. Until the bypass opened in October 2010, truckers were forced to take a 75-mile detour.

Boulder City officials say the increased traffic is worsened because U.S. 93 narrows to two lanes within the city.

Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, said the bill would allow travelers to still access the town – they simply would have the option to pay a toll for faster travel around the area.

“(U.S. 93) will continue to remain under the direction of the state and always be available to drivers who do not wish to pay tolls,” Hardy told lawmakers during discussion on the effort.

The toll rate would be set by a state board and collected by a third party. There is no indication yet about possible toll rates.

Another provision in the bill would require 50 percent of the workers on the project to have Nevada driver’s licenses.

Supporters say the provision is intended to help provide thousands of jobs in the region.

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

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