Bill would base Kansas Turnpike tolls on speed

TOPEKA | A Kansas senator wants speeding turnpike drivers to pay more in tolls.

David Haley has drafted a bill that would allow the Kansas Turnpike Authority to charge tolls based on a driver’s speed. Fast drivers traveling on the turnpike would be charged more than a flat rate.

“Every time the KTA has categorically raised tolls, I wince,” said Haley, a Democrat from Wyandotte County. “I say there has got to be something that is conduct-based, which is what this legislation would provide.”

The speed limit is 70 mph on the 236 miles in the Turnpike Authority system.

Haley’s proposal, which will be introduced after the Legislature convenes next Monday, has been floated before in Kansas. A similar bill pushed by Haley in 2007 didn’t receive a committee hearing.

The latest toll proposal apparently faces opposition, too.

“It’s meddling where I don’t think it’s necessary,” said Republican Rep. Gary Hayzlett, of Lakin.

Hayzlett is vice chairman of the Turnpike Authority board. He’s chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

“I don’t think we need the Legislature telling the chief executive and the board how to do the pricing on the turnpike,” he said.

The Turnpike Authority depends on toll collections to cover highway construction and maintenance costs.

Haley said the bill would give the Turnpike Authority jurisdiction over the new fee structure, which would base tolls on a driver’s average speed. It would be determined by recording the time a vehicle entered and left the turnpike.

“If you pay incrementally more for going over the posted speed limit, maybe people would check their speed more often,” Haley said.

The Kansas Highway Patrol still would be able to issue citations for speeding drivers. The statute wouldn’t get in the way of that, he said.