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Transportation funding bills get favorable reception

SHARE Transportation funding bills get favorable reception

The first of several bills calling for an increase in transportation funding has received a favorable recommendation from a Senate committee.

Sen. Sheldon Killpack's "local corridor preservation funding" initiative would allow counties to tack up to $20 in fees onto vehicle registration and renewal applications to help preserve future roadway corridors.

The money from SB8 would be deposited into a state fund, then allocated back to the county it came from for purchasing property and maintaining future corridors.

Additional personnel may need to be added to the Tax Commission and the Utah Department of Transportation if a significant number of counties choose to implement the fee.

Regardless, senators called the measure a "necessary," money-saving action.

"What this bill does is make monies available for local entities to preserve corridors now so we don't have to go through the process of condemning homes and businesses," said Killpack, R-Syracuse.

"We needed to take some action on this and give the counties and municipalities a tool" for preserving these corridors, said Sen. Carlene Walker, R-Sandy. "It's something that needs to happen."

While the bill received approval from both interim and standing committees, it is currently being held on the Senate floor — apparently so lawmakers can question county officials about their support of the measure.

The House Transportation Committee also gave preliminary approval to a bill that would extend the life of a vehicle safety and emissions certificate from two to three months.

HB48 had originally called for the inspection certificate to be extended from two to six months, but lawmakers amended the bill, saying six months was too long for an inspection to remain valid.

Public safety officials and representatives from the auto industry called the measure a dilution of current safety inspection standards.

"Yes, I'm concerned about making (inspections) easier for citizens," said Col. Scott Duncan with the Utah Highway Patrol. "But on the other side — are we sacrificing safety if we continue to water down one of the key components of our traffic safety system?"

E-mail: nwarburton@desnews.com