The survey showed 77% opposed interstate tolls, while just 14% favored them. The survey was released by Citizens for Safe & Efficient Highways Inc., a national coalition formed to stop states from imposing interstate tolls, allowed under the federal transportation law passed last summer.
Speakers at the press conference charged that the tolls would amount to double taxation on motorists and truckers who already pay fuel taxes as well as vehicle registration and user fees. The survey found that 86% of Americans believe such tolls constitute a double tax, and 68% believe that tolling interstates would increase congestion, delays and pollution.
The coalition has made the state of Arkansas “ground zero” in the battle to stop the new tolls. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century allows up to three states to charge tolls on interstates, provided they first get approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Arkansas Highway Commission has voted to make Arkansas the first state to apply, despite opposition by the governor. The commission has outlined plans to toll interstates 30, 40 or 55 in the state.
Marr Lynn Bearden, owner of Marrlin Transit in Van Buren, AR, said paying tolls on interstate highways would have cost her up to $119,784 for the first nine months of this year. She operates 60 trucks as a regional carrier serving Arkansas and Oklahoma.
“We want to kill this in Arkansas and stop it from spreading to other states,” said Walter McCormick, president of the American Trucking Assns., a member of the coalition. “America’s trucking industry will vigorously combat the imposition of tolls on highways that we have already paid for.”
Other groups in the anti-toll coalition include the Arkansas Motor Carriers Assn., AAA Arkansas, the American Highway Users Alliance, NATSO (representing truckstops and travel plazas), the National Taxpayers Union and Americans for Tax Reform.
Public Opinion Strategies, an independent polling firm located in Alexandria, VA, conducted the survey Nov. 4-5.