Toll Roads and Even a Tunnel Under Pearl Harbor Could Go Private

PEARL HARBOR (KHNL) - Leeward commuters, imagine paying a couple bucks in tolls to drive through a tunnel under Pearl Harbor.

You'd go from Iroquois point to town in about 20 minutes. One state lawmaker says it's possible.

Oahu gridlock. An elevated toll road like this one in Tampa, Florida is the answer according to state representative Rida Cabanilla,

"I want them to think there is an option for us, a solution to build the road right now without waiting to build the rail in 2012."

She doesn't believe rail is will work for everyone. "Even if every seat on the rail is taken there will still be traffic, gridlock, not everybody will be convinced to ride the rail ."

Her bill allows the state to partner with private contractors to build and manage toll roads.

22 other states have built them says the lawmaker, "It's just we are not used to paying money to use the road. that's got to be the way because it's so cost prohibitive."

A toll tunnel under Pearl Harbor deserves a second look says the lawmaker. Cabanilla points to this toll tunnel in the Chesapeake Bay as an example of how public private partnerships work, "That would be the legislation that would allow the private sector to collect money from drivers, users, motorists. without that piece of legislation they won't be able to."

Several private companies have expressed interest in building toll roads in Hawaii but legally the state won't allow it. Her bill would change that.

Some tolls on the mainland very from fifty cents to four dollars. But to some leeward drivers, a quicker commute would be priceless.