A proposal to allow a $1 billion privately funded toll lane project in Southern Nevada is expected to die today in a state legislative committee.
Assembly Bill 524, which would have allowed a 19-mile toll lane “demonstration project” on Southern Nevada freeways, was all but dead, state officials and legislators said.
The bill did not appear on Thursday’s agenda of the Assembly Transportation Committee, which recessed until today, leaving only the slightest chance that the committee will vote on the legislation, said Assemblyman and Transportation Committee Chairman Kelvin Atkinson.
“Unless (the Nevada Department of Transportation) amends it to another bill, as far as I’m concerned … I don’t think there’s a chance I’m going to bring it up again,” Atkinson said.
The bill received little support in Atkinson’s committee at a recent hearing. Legislators showed disdain for the concept presented by state transportation officials.
“I think everyone is uncomfortable with (toll lanes),” Atkinson said. “These are tough times, and the last thing citizens want to hear is that they have to pay for something else.”
Despite the latest setback — a similar bill was killed during the 2007 legislative session — Nevada Department of Transportation Director Susan Martinovich said she still feels privately funded toll lanes are good for the state.
“Here was a way, without raising fees and taxes, to address our capacity issues and funding shortages,” she said.
Martinovich said she plans on continuing to educate legislators about the issue, though she does not expect toll lane legislation will pass during this session. She said because other states are moving forward with similar toll lane concepts, Nevada will fall behind in its ability to secure private funding for such a project.
The demonstration project would have stretched toll lanes from U.S. Highway 95 near Ann Road to Interstate 15 and, using flyover lanes, connect to I-15 south to Interstate 215 so users could avoid onramps and off-ramps at the Spaghetti Bowl. A fee would have been charged for vehicles with one or two persons.
Electronic enforcement would have been used instead of toll booths.
Currently, state law prohibits toll roads and electronic enforcement.
Atkinson said one of the major obstacles was that the plan would have incorporated lanes already built into the freeway system.
“How do you convince a taxpayer to pay to ride on a road that their tax dollars already paid for,” he said.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-387-2904.