Nevada Lawmakers Discuss Highway Funding - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Nevada Lawmakers Discuss Highway Funding

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The Nevada Department of Transportation estimates the state has a shortfall of about $2 billion to repair all state maintained roads and bridges.

The department expects that backlog to increase to $3.4 billion by 2025.

A National Transportation Research Group says that more than half of all Nevada roads and highways are either in poor or mediocre condition. Now lawmakers are trying to come up with funding to change that.

The TRIP Report says bad roads are costing Nevada drivers $2.1 billion every year.

"Every driver in the Reno and Carson City area loses almost $1,700 each year because they're driving on roads that are deteriorated, that are congested, and aren't as safe as they could be," Carolyn Kelly, Associate Director of Research and Communications for TRIP said.

Kelly says bad roads beat up cars, adding to maintenance costs. Sitting in traffic wastes time and fuel. And unsafe roads cause expensive car accidents.

NDOT says the money it used to have to repair roads and bridges is not there anymore.

"Construction inflation still goes up every year, so there will be less buying power available each year for the amount of revenue coming in," Rudy Malfabon, Director of NDOT said.

Each year, nearly 300 people are killed in crashes in Nevada.

NDOT says more funding could lower that number.

"There's some areas in the state where it's rural roads, not a lot of shoulders," Malfabon said. "But we're taking steps to put guard rails or slope-flattening. Truck passing lanes are another alternative that improves safety."

To pay for this, State Senator Tick Segerblom is sponsoring a bill that would raise the state gas tax by two-cents per gallon, every year for the next decade.

That is an eventual 20-cent increase.

"Our roads are a disaster," Segerblom, (D) Clark County said. "We spend too much time on the roads and this money goes directly to the roads. So I think people are willing to pay if they can get to work faster."

With gas prices already averaging $3.75 per gallon in Nevada, some say the extra fee is just too much.

"I don't like it at all," Rebecca Sitton said. "There's other ways to come up with the money, such as let's have Nevada join the lottery and powerball."

But other drivers told us they are willing to pay extra at the pump.

"If it's used for improving roads, I'm all for it," Brian Sewell said. "Just driving around the city, you see enough problems with roads and it needs to be improved. Either that or we have to go back to horses."

Some say as fuel efficiency improves and people buy more hybrids, they will be buying less gas, and this tax will make up for that lost revenue.

For more information on the TRIP report, go to http://www.tripnet.org/

Written by Paul Nelson
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