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Tolling Points

Putting the Highway Funding Crisis on Ice

Bill Cramer
At a September forum organized by the Reason Foundation, IBTTA Executive Director and CEO Patrick Jones came up with another great metaphor to explain the roots of the highway funding crisis.
One of the most persistent myths about tolling is that U.S. highways were paid for, once and for all, when built in the last century. At the Reason Foundation forum, Jones brandished a bag of ice to show the audience how quickly an investment can melt away without the ongoing care, tending, and investment it needs.
“This bag of ice is bought and paid for,” Jones said of the ice, as participants began to chuckle. ”You can see there’s been some degradation…You can stop the degradation by applying some refrigeration, but that costs money.”
The agencies that manage the Interstate highway system can paint and pave their roads—but like the refrigeration that keeps a bag of ice from melting, highway maintenance costs money. That’s why states need more flexibility in federal regulations, to allow them to embrace tolling if it suits their circumstances.
“Right now we can’t even have that debate,” Jones said, because of the federal ban on tolling existing Interstates. “Let’s remove the prohibition” and allow the states to join the conversation and keep the economy growing.
photo credit: cobaltfish via photopin cc


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