Southern States Reconsider Resistance to Toll Roads

NASHVILLE, TN - Charging for highway access on toll roads has been a common way to fund road building and maintenance in much of the country.

But most of the South has resisted the trend.

That could change as federal funding for road projects dries up and states try to ward off gas-tax hikes amid spiking fuel costs.

Tennessee Governor Bredesen says that as he was growing up in upstate New York, he thought all major highways were toll roads because they were the norm there.

Bredesen surprised many observers earlier this year when he announced his support for the creation of a toll road authority in Tennessee.

Lawmakers have acknowledged general unease about the proposal by limiting it to just two pilot projects, one road and one bridge.

Florida and Texas are the only Southern states that have made extensive use of toll roads and bridges.  Only a handful of toll projects remain in the rest of the region.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour last month signed into law a bill that would authorize the construction of toll roads.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)