Thursday, the state Senate approved a bill that would allow for electronic tolling on to provide more financing for the project.
To get federal funding to complete the 8.4-mile extension of Route 11 from Salem to Waterford, the state has to show it can pay for approximately 20 percent of the project. By allowing electronic tolls on that portion, instead of relying solely on taxpayer funds, it increases the chances the federal government will fund part of the $1 billion project, according to the Department of Transportation.
“The need for completion of Route 11 is well-established and the project is long overdue – this legislation would authorize the Department of Transportation to create a dedicated revenue stream to underwrite the cost of that construction,” said State Sen. Anrea Stillman, D-Waterford, in a press release. “Moreover, the language of the bill stipulates that any electronic tolls be removed once revenue matches those construction costs.”
Local officials have pushed for Route 11 to be extended for years, to both increase the safety of Route 85 and because many feel it will increase economic development in the area. Route 11 was unexpectedly stopped in Salem in the early 1970s when the state ran out of funds to finish the project.
“This bill provides an essential option with regard to funding for completion of Route 11 and I’m delighted with the Senate’s approval today,” Stillman said in the release. “I now look forward to the favorable consideration of this matter by our counterparts in the House.”
As Stillman mentioned, the state’s House of Representatives still needs to pass the bill.