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The great transportation debate in Utah will intensify on Friday when the Huntsman administration hosts a daylong transportation summit. At issue? How to keep Utahns efficiently mobile in coming decades as the population soars.
Expect most of the attention to focus on the cost of expanding Utah’s transportation infrastructure, and especially, how to fund it. Billions of dollars will be needed.
While it would be nice if our transportation needs could be met through existing revenue streams and economic expansion, reality tells us new sources of funding will be needed.
Utahns should be prepared for the reality of strategic tax increases. In KSL’s view, a hike in the gas tax seems more equitable than paying for roads through any kind of an increase in property taxes.
As well, the idea of toll roads should not be summarily dismissed. Rather, as demonstrated in other parts of the country, such user fees could help cover the costs of constructing and maintaining vital roadways. Still, any venture into requiring motorists to pay to access a highway or specified lanes on freeways must be done cautiously and with full understanding of the impact it would have.
So, in the spirit of achieving consensus and ultimately meeting the transportation challenge, we say, let the great debate proceed.