Toll roads possible?

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Not long ago, when North Dakota had a large budget surplus, money was not much of an issue.

Now, state leaders are considering certain forms of tax increases.

The State Financial Committee met Dec. 7 and heard presentations on the funding of North Dakota's roads from the state, county, and city level.

The North Dakota finance committee was discussing an expected $66 million shortfall in transportation funding that needs to be made up.

"The fact that we were talking about toll bridges or toll roads, that's frightening. I don't think people realize that to close that gap, if we're not able to do that using state dollars or federal dollars, that local jurisdictions, cities and counties might start looking for toll roads, and I don't think that anybody wins in that scenario," said Rep. Corey Mock, (D) House Minority Leader.

The discussion was however, not limited to toll roads.

"There are many options that can be explored, and certainly many states are taking a look at those, doing some pilot projects and so on. Mileage based user fees, and various other forms of funding. So we're just beginning to explore those, so we'll see where that goes," said Shannon Sauer, Department of Transportation Chief Financial Officer.

Everyone uses roads everyday, but no one wants to pay for them.

"What we've seen and what we know is the funding for roads is drying up, we aren't keeping up with our needs," said Mock.

Instead of toll roads we could see a road use tax, private company partnerships, or the first state gas tax increase in more than a decade.

Representatives at the meeting said that they think toll roads are unlikely given our other options, but that they were brought up was a sobering fact for everyone about the state of our budget.