January 24, 2012
After news broke that Missouri might toll I-70, which runs east and west through the middle of the state, to fund repairs, the truckstop association NATSO urged Missouri lawmakers to oppose the proposal.In a letter to state Sen. Bill Stouffer and state Rep. Charlie Denison, co-chairs of the state's Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight, NATSO say both traditional tolling and public-private partnerships negatively impact consumers and interstate businesses that have grown up in towns and communities near interstate exits. "Tolls on I-70 will increase transportation costs for fuel delivery and other inventory, divert traffic onto less-safe secondary roads, and make it less attractive for highway users to exit off the interstate," says the letter. NATSO says while it recognizes the need to maintain I-70, "study after study shows that tolls carry astronomically higher capital and overhead expenditures compared with the fuel tax." NATSO is also concerned by the structure of public private partnership deals that typically offer states most of the revenues up-front and that are most often used by states to fix short-term budget woes. "For highway users and taxpayers," NATSO says, "the long-term leases that typically last for 75 to 100 years mean nothing more than tolling without input from elected officials."