A coalition of highway construction groups in nearly a dozen states has launched a national campaign to urge Congress to allow states to impose tolls to pay for long-overdue highway improvements.

The U.S. Tolling Coalition says Congress should provide maximum flexibility to states to add tolls to any portion of their interstate or federal highways for the purpose of reconstruction and rehabilitation.

"17% of our interstates and one quarter of our nation's bridges are structurally deficient," says Coalition Co-Chairman Patrick Goss, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association. "With Congress struggling to find the money to meet basic maintenance needs, allowing more tolling will stretch dollars, jump start construction projects and create new jobs."

Under a pilot program, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently allowed Virginia to add tolls along the I-95 corridor in that state to pay for critical rehabilitation and upkeep. Missouri has also been cleared to add tolls. The U.S. Tolling Coalition wants to expand the program nationwide, which requires congressional authorization.

Coalition Co-Chairman Don Shubert, who is also President of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, said, "What's good for Virginia and Missouri is good for the rest of America. States are confronting accelerating pavement deterioration due to age and high traffic. As a result, American business is hurting and we need to act now to give states the power to toll."

In a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Transportation Committees, Goss and Shubert said tolls are gaining public acceptance as motorists see the benefits of electronic collection systems, as well as the negative impacts of the lost buying power of fuel tax revenues.

More information on the U.S. Tolling Coalition can be found at www.ustollingcoalition.com.