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State Gas Tax Rises Almost 5 Cents a Gallon on Friday

Gas prices will go up about five cents a gallon in Utah starting on Friday. (Pippalou/morguefile)
Gas prices will go up about five cents a gallon in Utah starting on Friday. (Pippalou/morguefile)
December 30, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY - Gas prices in Utah will go up by about five cents a gallon starting Friday when the increase in the state gas tax kicks in. This spring, Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill to change the state gas tax from a fixed 24.5 cents a gallon to one that takes 12 percent of the cost of a gallon.

So the new amount varies with the price of gas and has a ceiling and a floor so it doesn't go too high or too low.

Cameron Diehl, director of government relations with the Utah League of Cities and Towns, estimates the state stands to gain $75 million a year starting in 2017.

"We have not invested in our transportation infrastructure in decades," says Diehl. "The last time the gas tax was increased was 1997, which meant local governments and the Department of Transportation were unable to provide the projects that residents demand."

The Utah Constitution requires the money to go to transportation. Seventy percent will go to the state DOT, which plans to start improving rural roads and bridges that have fallen into disrepair due to lack of funds. Cities and counties will split the rest.

Diehl says some of the money will go to improve local public transit which will be a good thing for the environment.

"The more you invest in that type of infrastructure, the more you see people willing to walk places and bike places and take the train and take the bus," says Diehl. "Which then has a demonstrable impact on improved air quality."

It's unclear if the rise in prices will push people to drive less often, since the price of gas overall is historically low right now. But Diehl says drivers will spend less time idling in traffic, spewing less exhaust into the air because the improved road systems will make travel more efficient.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - UT