SAN FRANCISCO -Nevada transportation officials last week decided to move forward with a plan that would bring the state its first public-private partnership, and its first road tolls.

The Board of Transportation voted Thursday to move forward with a demonstration project that would add toll lanes along the Interstate 15 corridor in Las Vegas, one of the busiest roadways in the state.

The board, which governs the Nevada Department of Transportation, was acting on the recommendation of a Public-Private Partnership Advisory Committee, a 12-member panel appointed last year by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

The panel was charged with looking at P3 options to help address the gap between Nevada's transportation funding capacity and its infrastructure needs.

The demonstration program the committee recommended would convert high-occupancy vehicle and emergency lanes on I-15 into managed lanes with electronic toll collection and video enforcement.

The tolls would be a major milestone in Nevada. "There are no road tolls right now in Nevada," said NDOT spokeswoman Meg Mincolla.

Details were not immediately available on how the proposed structure would be financed, who the private partners would be, or how they would be chosen. It was also unclear as to whether federal approval of such tolling would be required or has been sought.

The project would require enabling legislation. In fact, state law currently prohibits road tolling.

The Legislature next convenes in February.

"During these difficult fiscal times, it's essential that we look at every alternative for funding our transportation needs," Gibbons said in a statement last week. "This group has evaluated the necessity of adding this tool to NDOT's toolbox, and I support the findings."


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