A report from the Reason Foundation outlining the benefits of tolling for infrastructure has been denounced by the American Trucking Associations.
The report details reasons for the trucking industry to embrace the use of tolling to finance infrastructure repair and upkeep . It outlines federal and state legislations that the Reason Foundation says could eliminate the trucking industry’s previous objections to tolling.
The report says that truckers could be guaranteed that toll rates would only cover the capital and operating costs of the tolled infrastructure. The foundation suggests that tolling of existing interstate routes would not begin until that section of highway has already been reconstructed and re-opened to traffic. Tolls would replace current state gas taxes on Interstates to avoid double taxation and toll revenues would only be spent on maintaining and improving the tolled highways.
“Truckers have been wary of toll roads because they fear, rightly so, that any new Interstate tolling will turn those highways into cash cows for states,” said Robert Poole, direct of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “However, with full use of today's electronic tolling technology, plus strong legal highway user protections, toll-financed Interstate modernization would be an attractive value proposition for truckers and other highway users."
In response to the report, ATA said the study “demonstrates a continued misunderstanding of the trucking industry and overlooks real issues with tolling.”
ATA went on to state, “Tolling - even electronic tolling - is still much less efficient than the traditional, fuel tax-based user fee system and we continue to see, despite current safeguards, tolls used for purposes other than maintenance of the roads they're collected on.”
Tolls remain unpopular in the trucking industry yet states like Rhode Island and Pennsylvania have looked at tolls and toll increases as a viable way to fund aging infrastructure. ATA still backs fuel tax-based fees as the best way to fund infrastructure.
“ATA will continue to strongly oppose the imposition of tolls in the Interstate system, particularly now as we've seen several states back off plans to erect tolls once the public sees just how bad they are for mobility and efficiency,” ATA stated.
For a full look at the Reason Foundation’s study, click here.