Chairman Morgan Martin met with federal highway officials and the state’s congressional delegation last week to discuss tollbooths – tolls he says are needed to help make up a projected $9.4 billion highway maintenance shortfall during the next decade.
Tolls may be attractive to the governor and lawmakers because out-of-state drivers would pay most of the tolls. The state’s only tollroad, on the Cross Island parkway on Hilton Head, is also considered a success.
A program in last year’s interstate highway bill would allow tolls for regular maintenance on single stretches of highway in three states. Arkansas is the only other state that has expressed interest in the program. The test projects are intended to provide for repair of “interstate highway corridors where estimated improvement costs exceed available funding sources, and work cannot be advanced without the collection of tolls,” the legislation reads.
A single toll could provide as much as $77 million a year for road maintenance, according to department estimates.
States have until March 31 to apply for the program.