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Tolling Points

The IBTTA Legislative Summit: Delivering Infrastructure that Improves Lives

By: 
Mitchell Beer

IBTTA’s Summit on Legislation, Policy & Infrastructure Finance takes place at a moment of transition for highway infrastructure funding in the United States. In this interview with our blogger Mitchell Beer, IBTTA Executive Director and CEO Patrick Jones explains why the Summit occupies a crucial spot in the association’s 2014 conference calendar.

 

Why was it important for IBTTA to hold a legislative summit in 2014?

 

This summit will shine a bright light on the creative laws, policies, and funding strategies that states and toll agencies have embraced to build and operate vital highway infrastructure.

In Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, the Israelites were compelled to “make bricks without straw” to build Pharaoh’s city. In the big infrastructure crisis of our age, the states are being asked to rebuild the Interstate Highway System without federal money—there is some money, but certainly not enough to do the job.

The federal highway trust fund is on the verge of bankruptcy, and the Interstate highway system is in danger of collapsing from lack of investment. Like DeMille’s Israelites, who were forced to make bricks by scraping stubble from the fields, the states have had to look for loose change between sofa cushions and underneath rugs.

Some states have become quite inventive in their efforts to supplement meager federal funds, relying on tolling, public-private partnerships, concessions, availability payments, local option taxes, and other funding and financing methods to support their highway infrastructure. With debate now under way on the next highway authorization, this summit is an opportunity for state DOTs, toll agencies, and others to ask Congress for maximum flexibility for states to meet their transportation funding challenges as they see fit. For some of them, that might include the use of tolling on existing Interstate routes.

 

What are the most important elements of the Summit program, and how will they help shape the debate over transportation reauthorization?

 

There are several important things happening during this summit, all crucial to IBTTA’s efforts to advance toll-financed transportation.

We’ll hear about the policies and objectives of other transportation associations in Washington, DC, and learn how we can coordinate our efforts for maximum impact.

We’ll gain insight from key members of Congress and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on the timing and general principles we can expect in the next reauthorization.

We’ll hear real world examples of how toll agencies and state DOTs are supercharging their funding, financing, and operational outcomes through high-performance governance. 

The program touches on a range of other important topics, as well, including trends in technology, interoperability, media, the role of freight, and future refinements to the TIFIA program.

 

What were IBTTA's most important gains in the first year of the Moving America Forward campaign?

The first year of the Moving America Forward campaign helped put IBTTA on the map and make tolling an integral part of the conversation about how to fund and finance future improvements in America’s surface transportation infrastructure. The debate is on, and tolling is a major part of it.

As we said in our recent testimony for the record before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, “the tolling option provides both a viable tool to improve infrastructure, as well as a means to help frame and advance the debate over other funding options.” Whichever funding option a state chooses, having tolling as part of the debate improves the likelihood that the state will take proactive steps to strengthen its infrastructure funding.

 

How will the experience from Moving America Forward benefit IBTTA's international members?

 

Almost every country in the world confronts an infrastructure funding challenge in some form. We believe it will be possible to adapt and redeploy the lessons and strategies we learn from Moving America Forward, to move public opinion in other parts of the world and help foster policies and laws that promote toll financed transportation. We want to create an environment around the world in which people and their governments can deliver infrastructure that enhances mobility and improve lives.

 

What's the single most important thing for participants to think about before they arrive at the Legislative Summit?

 

Ponder the question: What can we do, individually and collectively, to deliver infrastructure that enhances mobility and improves people’s lives?

We believe one answer to this question is to advance toll financed transportation. We believe tolling is one of the most powerful, effective tools to build and maintain the roads, bridges, and tunnels on which we all depend. So what can we do to create a business and policy environment that is friendly to tolling?

Register today for IBTTA’s Summit on Legislation, Policy & Infrastructure Finance, March 9-11, 2014 in Washington, DC.

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