NDOT considers toll roads | NevadaAppeal.com

NDOT considers toll roads

The Nevada transportation board on Thursday told Transportation Director Jeff Fontaine to look into a proposal to add toll lanes along existing federal highways for those willing to pay to get somewhere faster.

But members of the board, headed by Gov. Kenny Guinn, made it clear they weren’t necessarily endorsing the idea, which is being touted by Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev.

Fontaine agreed this wasn’t an authorization, just a “placeholder” in case the federal government works out a test program and authorizes states to try the idea.

He and other NDOT officials said at the meeting they are interested in the idea, which would provide an option for motorists needing a faster trip on business highways. But Deputy Director Susan Martinovich said a lot of technical and logistical issues would have to be worked out to make toll lanes constructed as part of an existing freeway work.

Porter said he proposed the idea to help pay for expansions of congested highways such as Interstate 15 in Southern Nevada. He pointed out Nevada is facing a $3.8 billion shortfall in highway funding over the next decade.

The federal Department of Transportation is considering a pilot program that would allow charging tolls to help finance infrastructure improvements. The proposal approved by the transportation board Thursday simply allows Nevada transportation officials to tell their federal counterparts the state is interested in possibly joining that pilot program.

Fontaine said the Blue Ribbon Task Force created by Guinn to study ways of paying for the state’s transportation construction needs has already adopted a proposal suggesting user fees – tolls – as one way of paying for some of those projects.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.