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Lobby Group Urges Congress to Reject Interstate Tolling to Finance Upgrades

| February 6, 2017

toll booth

The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI), which describes itself as an “alliance of individuals, businesses and organizations advocating for long-term, sustainable, efficient, equitable, and sensible highway infrastructure funding solutions,”  has applauded the renewed public emphasis on infrastructure funding coming from the Trump Administration and Congress.

It noted: “Implemented properly, infrastructure funding can provide meaningful employment opportunities to those individuals and communities that need it the most, while also modernizing the transportation system to improve the free flow of people and goods throughout the country.”

The group also cautioned:  “At the same time, poorly conceived infrastructure legislation can be counter-productive, limiting benefits to certain densely populated areas and companies looking for a lighter tax bill. Keeping these principles in mind, ATFI urges the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to reject tolling of existing interstates as a financing method, and further encourages the Committee to avoid policies that move toward devolution of the interstate system.”

In its official letter, the group stated:  “ATFI members have serious reservations about the potential for over-reliance on private investment to fund improvements to our highway infrastructure; such scenarios invariably lead to functional monopolies that subject users to exorbitant, regressive tolling rates. Moreover, private investment in infrastructure is not the panacea it is often touted to be, as self-interested private corporations would only focus on our most profitable (i.e. urban area) projects and leave rural states out in the cold. Finally, it would result in a windfall for companies participating in projects that would occur anyway, misdirecting much-needed funds away from deserving projects in other, often overlooked parts of the country.”

The organization continued: “Voters continue to reject tolling existing interstates because they understand tolling is bad public policy with myriad negative consequences, both economic and social. Of nearly all funding options available, tolling is the least efficient financing mechanism. Not only does approving and building tolls take many years and many millions of dollars to implement, but tolling habitually allows tolling authorities to divert money away from the tolled facility and toward other projects.”

It argued: “tolling leads to an unnecessary expansion of government bureaucracy. The administration of tolls – not to mention the profits taken by private investors – can waste anywhere from 10% to 30% of revenue collected from the toll on management, enforcement and operations.”

So where will the funding come from?

Ahh, ATFI noted: “Alternatively, current funding mechanisms like fuel taxes and registration fees have no added collection costs, with 99% of funds collected going toward infrastructure. Because tolls are generally upheld as a ‘user fee’ for the roads traveled, diverting these funds away from infrastructure improvements is a violation of the public trust. Quite simply, the fuel tax is the ultimate user fee and it’s already in place.”


Category: Featured, Management

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