Nevada turns to tolls for congestion relief

| Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A new law moves one Nevada town closer to having a $400 million bypass to relieve traffic.

Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law a bill, SB506, to authorize the state’s first and only toll road around Boulder City.

Aimed at relieving traffic jams created by the opening of the Hoover Dam bypass bridge last fall, the new law requires 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.

Traveling through the area has been a challenge for truckers during 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 a toll road will allow travelers to still access the town. They simply would have the option to pay for faster travel around the area. He said U.S. 93 will continue to be an option for drivers who do not want to pay.

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

To help provide thousands of construction jobs, the new law also requires that 50 percent of the workers on the project have Nevada driver’s licenses. In addition, at least 25 percent of material suppliers must be in-state.

As the state prepares to move forward on the toll project, construction will also soon get underway to widen U.S. 93 through Boulder City. To help alleviate some congestion issues, certain over-dimensional loads will be forbidden to travel southbound on the route until work wraps up this fall.

Also, large southbound trucks will be restricted from the roadway during the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.

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