By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor
Officials in Arizona are studying the possibility of converting the state’s 30-mile portion of Interstate 15 into a toll road. And it’s the out-of-state traffic and trucks they’re after. OOIDA is opposed to additional toll taxes on federally funded highways.
Arizona Department of Transportation officials filed its toll application with the Federal Highway Administration back in August under the administration’s Interstate Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program.
The section of I-15 under review is located in a sparsely populated part of the state that is separated from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon.
Officials have focused their outreach primarily to “affected stakeholders” in the nearby towns of St. George, UT, and Mesquite, NV, according to ADOT’s application.
ADOT is keen on tolling out-of-state traffic and is tossing around the idea of exempting local commuters from paying the extra tax.
“For example, it may be appropriate to exempt the locals who are reliant upon the stretch of I-15 from paying a toll,” officials stated in the application. “If an individual who lives in Mesquite commutes for work to St. George, the burden of paying a toll each way daily may not be equitable as there is not a viable alternative toll-free route.”
Interstate truckers have not specifically been part of the outreach despite accounting for 24 percent of the traffic on the affected portion of I-15 and contributing approximately $2.1 million each year for its upkeep.
ADOT says that with tolls, reconstruction of I-15 could begin as soon as 2015 and be completed in two years.
I-15 remains a significant trucking corridor. Back in 2007, the Federal Highway Administration chose I-15 from California to Montana for a “Corridors of the Future” designation because of its significance in the movement of people and freight. That designation gives the corridor a leg up on other highways for innovative financing options including tolls, federal grants or public-private partnerships.
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