Saturday, September 10, 2005

Utah legislators to meet with Texas legislators and lobbyists who pushed the Trans-Texas Corridor

Utah delegation visits Texas to learn about toll roads

September 10, 2005

The Associated Press
Copyright 2005

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah delegation is visiting Texas to learn how that state has worked with private groups to build toll roads.

"Primarily, what we're trying to do is recognize we do have a tremendous shortfall, so we need to look at every option that's out there," said Sen.

Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse, who already has opened a bill file entitled "Authorization for Toll Roads."

The senator plans to have a draft bill to propose before the transportation interim committee in November.

"There will be legislation regarding public-private partnership," he said. "That's why we're taking people to gain a better understanding of the concept. This is something that you want there to be a pretty good basis of understanding. Whenever you're doing something new, you want to have a pretty good cross section who are on board."

Texas lawmakers recently passed legislation allowing the state to enter into public-private partnerships for road building.

The 14 Utah legislators will meet with people who helped facilitate those negotiations and with the Texas legislators who passed legislation allowing Texas to join with the private sector for road building.

Utah Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert also was going on the trip to Austin Friday. The Utah Department of Transportation planned to send three representatives, and four people from the private sector also were to attend at their own expense. The government representatives' trip was funded by a federal grant.

The delegation was to return Saturday.

Utah has one toll road, the privately built Adams Avenue Parkway south of Ogden. It is not a state road.

The Legislature passed a bill earlier this year that authorizing UDOT to consider tolls as an option on new state roads. The department is studying whether the proposed Mountain View Corridor could be a toll road.

Lawmakers and transportation officials say building toll roads with help from the private sector would allow new roads to be built faster.

The Associated Press: