LAS VEGAS -- It appears a free program that helps stranded motorists may be on the chopping block.
The State Department of Transportation is looking into the cost effectiveness of the Nevada Freeway Service Patrol.
According to a report to the department's board of director, the cost of the service has gone up 50 percent since 2008, but the number of incidents they have responded to has gone down.
Money from the federal government pays for the service, but that money could be used for road projects instead.
Jonathon Middaugh runs the Freeway Service Patrol in southern Nevada. He says the money to get stranded drivers off the road safely is worth it.
"You would have to increase the number of troopers because of the way we help them out, taking care and clearing incidents, increasing tows," Middaugh said. "There would be more money lost in cutting the program."
Representatives with Nevada Highway Patrol agree. They do not want to lose a valuable resource. Troopers say if they are responsible for helping people who have broken down, those people would have to wait a lot longer.
"We do not want to have to do that especially in the heat of Vegas. You need water. You might have kids in the car. We do not want you to wait. The Freeway Service Patrol gives us that cushion. The extra help we need," Trooper Jeremie Elliott said.
One man stranded on the 215 beltway doesn't care about what the accountants say. The service gave him a bottle of water and a lift to the auto parts store.
"Never seen anything like them. But I think they're a good service to the community here," stranded driver Tim Brown said.
Middaugh says his team provides that kind of service every day.
"We help tens of thousands of people per year. Not just in changing tires, giving out gas, but helping with traffic control, keeping people safe, relocating them off the roadways," he said.
State Controller Kim Wallen is a member of the Department of Transportation board of directors. She says the board will look at the numbers so taxpayers can get the most for their money. According to her, the program will continue. However, depending on the review, a new company may take over it.
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