There’s a 29-mile section of Interstate 15 that cuts across Arizona’s northwest corner that’s noteworthy for its limited access — if you live south of the Grand Canyon, the only way you can get to it without crossing into Nevada or Utah is to make a long detour and drive dirt roads.
Completed in 1973, parts of Arizona’s I-15 are well over 40 years old, the expected lifespan of most roads. Part of I-15 was the most expensive section of interstate in the nation until Boston’s Big Dig surpassed it. That’s because it passes through the Virgin River Gorge, an expensive routing the federal government insisted on and ultimately completed by having Utah make some of its federal road funding available to this state.
Now, this expensive highway needs to be rebuilt and Arizonans, few of whom directly benefit from it, will have to pick up something in the neighborhood of 40 percent of the tab.
That’s why the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is pushing for that section of I-15 to be included as one of three interstate highway toll pilot projects. Those who use that section of highway should be the ones who pay for it.
Come to think of it, if that had been the case all along, maybe the feds would not have insisted it be built along the most expensive possible route in the first place.
ADOT has made a wise move and should be congratulated for it. Now they just need to get moving with a project under the public-private partnership law that is now three years old.
Dr. Byron Schlomach is the director of the Goldwater Institute’s Center for Economic Prosperity.
Goldwater Institute: More Roads to Travel: A Path to Transportation Solutions in Arizona
Arizona Republic: Northern Arizona toll road weighed for Interstate 15
AARoads.com: Interstate 15