State Toll Road Legislation
When a state or local government embarks on a toll road program, it is likely that
new legislation will be required to allow the collection of tolls (Typically this
is banned on the majority of public sector roads.) Similarly, if private sector
involvement is considered, this often needs specific enabling legislation.
Although each agency's enabling act is unique in some way, the following provisions
- Creation of an authority or commission, including the legal name and nature of the
newly created entity;
- Scope, purpose, and function of the new entity;
- Definition of terms;
- Delineation of district within which the entity operates;
- Details about the entity's governing board, including the number, composition, selection
or appointment process, compensation, and term of members, voting/procedural rules
for governing board action, and meeting requirements;
- The legal powers of the commission/authority, including the ability to establish
rules and regulations, hire employees, sue and be sued, enter into contracts, construct
facilities, acquire property, use the power of eminent domain, and impose fees;
- The authority to issue and refund bonds and use tolls and revenues in associated
- The authority to set and revise tolls and any applicable guidelines or formulas,
- The ability to invest bond proceeds;
- Administrative requirements, which may include periodic audits, competitive bidding,
annual reports, public notice and/or hearing requirements;
- Any constraints or rules on the use of funds;
- The rights and remedies of bondholders;
- Tax-exempt status of authority property and bonds;
- The venue and jurisdiction of legal actions against the authority/commission;
- Police powers;
- Operating, maintenance, and repair obligations; and
- Relationship to other entities, e.g., for oversight, reporting, etc.
Florida Turnpike Enterprise Law
The Florida Turnpike Enterprise Law is a sample of good generic
legislation creating a state turnpike authority. The law has several different sections
which govern the selection of projects, acquisition of property, bonding, concessions,
fiscal management, and related issues.
Minnesota Authority for Toll Facility
The following statutes from Minnesota provide the legal framework for implementing
toll roads in that state.
Authority for toll facility.
Toll facility development agreements; mandatory provisions.
Toll facility cost recovery.
Public toll facilities.
Toll facility revenue bonds.
Law enforcement on toll facilities.
Joint authority over toll facility.
Toll facility replacement projects.
Florida Expressway Authority Act and Related Provisions
Traditionally, states and localities have established special purpose authorities
to levy tolls on specific facilities. States have a great amount of flexibility
in implementing tolls on routes that are not part of the Interstate Highway system.
For example, several counties in Florida have developed local toll roads. This is
due in great part to the following state legislation which provides strong support
to counties interested in developing toll roads.
The Florida Expressway Authority Act and Related Provisions
legislation allows counties to create expressway authorities by authority of the
county commission. The provisions grant powers and duties to the authority and gives
state DOT powers to provide operations and maintenance services for new road infrastructure.
This is an innovative measure in that it covenants maintenance services to the expressway
authorities, enabling them to provide a gross pledge of the toll revenues for bonding
Under this legislation, "any county, or two or more contiguous counties located
within a single district of the [Florida DOT] may, by resolution adopted by the
board of county commissioners, form an expressway authority" (16). The Act
further provides that an authority can enter into a lease-purchase agreement with
FDOT performs certain operational functions on the facility under lease from the
authority; upon completion of the lease agreement, title to the facility is transferred
to the state. To date, Dade County Expressway Authority in the Miami area is the
only authority governed by the terms of Chapter 348, Part I, but future toll authorities
will be subject to its provisions. Most of Florida's existing toll authorities were
created before the 1990 enactment of this legislation.
Virginia Highway Corporation Act of 1988
Virginia is another state with a number of recently developed local toll roads,
including the Dulles Greenway, which was the first privately financed highway in
the modern era in the United States. The Virginia Highway Corporation Act of 1998
authorized the construction of the Dulles Greenway, with the provision that it be
supervised by the State Corporation Commission, much like a public utility. The
structure established here treats the highway concession like a public utility.
The authorities provided in this Act have also been used as the basis for developing
public toll roads such as the Chesapeake Expressway.
Virginia Public Finance Act of 1991
This legislation from the Commonwealth of Virginia codifies the process through
which local governing bodies may issue bonds, subject to the approval of a majority
of voters within local jurisdictions. The procedures described in this Act are typical
of those governing the issuing of local public debt in other states.
City of Chesapeake City Charter
Section 2.03 the Charter of the City of Chesapeake *
addresses the powers of the city. It includes specific language the City's right
to operate toll roads. This type of language could be adopted in most local charters
enabling local governments to engage in tolling when allowed by state law. Per Section
203 of the City of Chesapeake Charter, the City is authorized: "To acquire,
construct, own, maintain and operate or authorize the construction and maintenance
of roads within the city limits, and to charge or authorize the charging of tolls
for use of such roads by the public, and to require compensation for such use by
public utility, transmission or transportation companies, except as the right to
require such compensation is affected by any contract heretofore or hereafter made
with the company concerned."
Sec. 2.03. Special taxes; construction, etc., of bridges, canals, docks, etc. Without
limiting the generality of the foregoing, but in addition thereto, the city shall
have the following additional powers:
To levy a higher tax in such areas of the city as desire additional or more complete
services of government than are desired in the city as a whole, provided that such
higher tax rate shall not be levied for school, police or general government services
but only for those services which prior to the effective date of this Charter were
not offered in all the territory within the boundaries of the city and provided
further that the proceeds from such higher tax rate shall be so segregated as to
enable the same to be expended in the areas in which raised. Such higher tax shall
not be levied unless there has been filed with the council a petition of not less
than two-thirds of the landowners in such areas requesting such higher taxes.
To acquire, construct and maintain or authorize the construction and maintenance
of bridges, viaducts, subways or underpasses over or under the Elizabeth River or
any other stream, creek or ravine when any portion of such bridge, viaduct, subway
or underpass is within the city limits, and to charge or authorize the charging
of tolls for their use by the public, and to require compensation for their use
by public utility, transmission or transportation companies, except as the right
to require such compensation is affected by any contract heretofore or hereafter
made with the company concerned.
b1. To acquire, construct, own, maintain and operate
or authorize the construction and maintenance of roads within the city limits, and
to charge or authorize the charging of tolls for use of such roads by the public,
and to require compensation for such use by public utility, transmission or transportation
companies, except as the right to require such compensation is affected by any contract
heretofore or hereafter made with the company concerned.
To acquire, construct, own, maintain and operate, within and without the city, landings,
wharves, docks, canals and the approaches to and appurtenances thereof, tracks,
spurs, crossings, switchings, terminals, warehouses and terminal facilities of every
kind and description necessary or useful in the transportation and storage of goods,
wares and merchandise; perform any and all services in connection with the receipt,
delivery, shipment and transfer in transit, weighing, marking, tagging, ventilating,
refrigerating, icing, storing and handling of goods, wares and merchandise; prescribe
and collect charges from vessels coming into or using any of the facilities above
described; provide for the management and control of such facilities or any of them
by a department of the city government or by a board, commission or agency specially
established by ordinance for the purpose; lease any or all of such facilities or
any concessions properly incident thereto to any person, firm or corporation or
contract with any person, firm or corporation for the maintenance and operation
of any or all of such facilities on such terms and conditions as the council may
determine by ordinance; apply to the proper authorities of the United States to
grant to the city the privilege of establishing, maintaining and operating a foreign
trade zone within the city; regulate the use of other landings, wharves and docks
located on the Elizabeth River within the city; prevent and remove obstructions
from the harbor of the Elizabeth River and in, upon or near the landings, wharves,
docks, or canals adjacent thereto, and collect from the person or persons responsible
for such obstructions the cost of their removal; close or discontinue the use of
any such wharf, landing, dock or canal now owned or hereafter acquired by the city
and upon the closing or discontinuance of such use the same shall thereupon be forever
discharged from any public use or easement or from any obligation therefore imposed
by reason of such public use or easement by statute or otherwise.
To levy and provide for the assessment and collection of license taxes on all public
service corporations doing business within the city in such manner as the city council
shall deem expedient in accordance with the laws of this state; such authority shall
be in addition to other provisions of law permitting the imposition of license taxes
on businesses, trades, professions, occupations and callings and upon the persons,
firms and corporations engaged therein within the city. (1989 Acts, Ch. 194, § 1)