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January 8, 2007 12:00 PM, EST

Delaware May Lease Its Toll Roads, Paper Reports

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Delaware may consider leasing its toll roads to pay for road projects, in a move similar to other states, the Delaware News Journal newspaper reported Sunday.If the state takes advantage of a never-used state law, the toll roads could bring a windfall to the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. Leasing the roads could bring in as much as $4 billion, the paper reported.The $118 million brought in from tolls along Interstate 95 and Delaware 1 in the last fiscal year does not to covering the $2.7 billion the state is short to build all projects officials say are needed in the next six years, the paper said. Maintenance and operations alone carry an $80 million price tag, the paper said.Tolls are the Delaware Department of Transportation's second-largest moneymaker, behind the gas tax, the News Journal reported. In her 2006 State of the State address, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D) said the state would explore the possibility of a private-public partnership or other innovative financing plans for critical needs, the paper reported.Delaware is one of 21 states with laws that allow public-private partnerships to develop transportation infrastructure, the News Journal said, citing the Federal Highway Administration.Indiana has already cut a $3.8 billion deal to privatize the Indiana Toll Road, leasing it in a long-term deal to a foreign consortium. (Click here for previous coverage.)Pennsylvania is also considering leasing the state’s turnpike. (Click here for previous coverage.)