Residents and mayors from Salt Lake and Utah counties had a strong message Thursday for the state Transportation Commission: Don't let the Mountain View Corridor be built as a toll road.
Instead, they think the Legislature should look at other funding options such as a sales-tax hike to fund the $1.8 billion highway, which is proposed to run about 40 miles from northwest Utah County into western Salt Lake County.
"I don't know if I am personally against tolling, but I am against tolling the Mountain View Corridor because I look at it as a local road," South Jordan mayor Kent Money told commissioners during a meeting Thursday morning at the Salt Lake Community College campus in Sandy. "I think there's a number of different things you can look at. Be creative."
The Transportation Commission called the meeting to hear comments from the public about a proposal to charge tolls on Mountain View. Three panel discussions were also held, with speakers who included local mayors, the editorial page editors of the Deseret Morning News and The Salt Lake Tribune, and representatives from the Federal Highway Administration and Utah Department of Transportation.
The commission ultimately has the authority to decide if Mountain View is built as a toll road. After the meeting, commission chairman Glen Brown said that no decision will be made about whether to charge tolls on the highway until the Legislature weighs in.
A decision on tolls may not happen until late next year, according to Brown. The Legislature's input is needed, he said, because even if a private company were to build Mountain View, the state would still need to pay for about one-third of the highway's cost, for which no funding currently exists.
"A lot depends on what the Legislature does," he said.
Vern Anderson, editorial-page editor for the Tribune and a panelist, said he has found it "extraordinary" that lawmakers won't consider a gas-tax increase to fund transportation. "That shows me that there is a lack of political courage in the Legislature to meet this problem head-on," he said.
Sen. Ed Mayne, D-West Valley, who sat on one of the panels, said that he would like to push for a one-cent sales-tax increase statewide to fund transportation, including Mountain View. That would raise over $500 million a year, he said.For more information about Mountain View, to to: www.udot.utah.gov/mountainview. Opponents of the highway, including the Utah Trucking Association and some local mayors, have a Web site at: goutahgo.org.
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