Share This Page

Tolls on interstates sought to pay for infrastructure improvements

| Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 7:54 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Transportation on Tuesday asked Congress to end the prohibition on tolling existing interstate highways as a way of paying for their reconstruction, marking a major shift away from how the system has been funded for decades.

The proposal is part of President Obama's $302 billion infrastructure bill aimed at addressing a looming shortfall in the federal Highway Trust Fund. States are able to toll interstates only to add lanes. However, many simply don't have the money they need to widen or rebuild the oldest sections of interstate, nor does the federal government.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Tuesday that the federal Highway Trust Fund is set to run out of cash in August, a scenario that would hurt most states. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, a trade group, 31 states rely on federal funds for more than half their highway and bridge improvements.

McClatchy reported two years ago that three states — Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia — were considering tolls to rebuild their oldest interstates under a federal pilot program limited to three applicants. None of the states has enacted tolling on those highways, but Tuesday's proposal would grant that option to every state.

Longtime advocates of expanded tolling lauded the proposal. Pat Jones, executive director and CEO of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, noted that 35 states had used tolling as a “proven and effective option” for infrastructure improvements.

The trucking industry and motorist groups renewed their opposition. Toll opponents argue that payment collection systems are inefficient, raise costs for businesses and consumers and divert traffic to local roads that were never designed for large volumes of traffic.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.