Tenn. Transportation Commissioner facing toll roads' challenge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely says he realizes he may have a tough time persuading motorists to pay tolls in a state that hasn't charged drivers since the 1920s.

Last year, Nicely commissioned a study by the engineering firm Wilbur Smith Associates to look at the feasibility of charging tolls on three potential Tennessee routes.

He's expected to release the results of that study when he addresses lawmakers this week.

The three projects were the Knoxville Regional Parkway, also called the Orange Route; a bridge over the Cumberland River to provide access to Nashville from Hendersonville; and a road that would diverge from Interstate 40 near Strawberry Plains and lead to Gatlinburg.

Officials have said charging tolls could deflect the need to raise the gasoline tax to pay for new road projects.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)