U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., recently filed the House version of a bill offered earlier this summer by Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. Both versions, S1300 and HR2971, that would covert interstate highways into toll roads.
Both bills are dubbed the Lincoln Legacy Infrastructure Development Act and would push public/private partnerships for infrastructure projects. Both are still in committee.
The Lincoln Legacy Infrastructure Development Act will, according to Kirk's office, gives new life to President Abraham Lincoln's economic legacy by building new roads, airports, and railroads using public-private partnerships without new federal borrowing. The Act, according to Kirk, embraces the Lincoln Administration's public-private partnership success in the Transcontinental Railway Act by lifting federal restrictions. He says it could mobilize $100 billion for new roads, airports and railroads.
The bill calls for up to 10 existing interstate highways to be converted into toll roads. It would expand the Federal Highway Administration's Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program and allow up to 10 interstate highways to be converted into toll roads. The current pilot program allows just three. Supporters say it would bring in more revenue, but critics of the plan say highway users deserve protection from what amounts to a double tax.
U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., fought against a proposal in his home state that would have converted I-80 into a toll road under the existing program. According to him, since the initial pilot program was introduced in 1998, no state has successfully converted a federally funded interstate into a tollway.
The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association stood with Thompson and his predecessor, former Rep. John Peterson, against I-80 tolls in Pennsylvania, and stand opposed to the bills offered by Sen. Kirk and Rep. Hultgren.