Federal lawmakers could follow Southern Nevada’s lead in implementing a fuel revenue indexing tax to help fund infrastructure projects, including an extension of Interstate 11 from Hoover Dam to Phoenix, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee said Tuesday.
Without providing specifics, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said he is working with Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., in crafting an infrastructure policy plan set for release in June, aimed at building and repairing roads, bridges, airports, seaports and other facilities nationwide.
“There’s lots of ideas out there on how to do it, and indexing and the gas taxes are some of the options that need to be on the table,” Shuster said during an hourlong meeting with local transportation officials at North Las Vegas City Hall.
“It needs to be done on a bipartisan basis,” Shuster said. “It’s not going to pass unless Republicans and Democrats come together to say ‘OK.’ ”
The Clark County Commission adopted a fuel indexing tax in 2013 that raised about $700,000 to pay for 225 road projects countywide. County voters supported a November 2016 measure that extended the tax for another decade to raise another $3 billion for road improvements.
Shuster was visiting the Las Vegas Valley by invitation of fellow Republican Cresent Hardy, a former congressman who is looking to win back his seat to represent a district taking in most of northern Clark County, southern Lyon County and all of Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye and White Pine counties.
Hardy won the seat representing Nevada’s 4th Congressional District in 2014 and held it for one term before he was defeated by current Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen, a Democrat, in 2016.
“Fuel indexing has benefited our valley immensely and it will continue to do so,” Hardy said. “I think the chairman is on board with trying to move forward to get funding.”
Rudy Malfabon, director of the Nevada Department of Transportation, told Shuster that he would like to see Congress develop a program that lists specific “high priority” projects and funding sources, including I-11.
The first 15-mile stretch of the new interstate running between Henderson and the Hoover Dam is set to open Aug. 9, but Malfabon and other state officials now want to see a connection to Phoenix.
“I think it would benefit Nevada and Arizona to get something like that,” Malfabon said. “It’s really a need in the West, with all the growth.”