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Tolling Points

States’ Council Points to ‘Significant Role’ for Tolling

By: 
Bill Cramer

It’s one thing to tell your own story. It’s that much more powerful and effective when your friends say good things on your behalf.

For an example, look no farther than a new policy brief from the Council of State Governments, which points to a “significant role” for tolling in helping state governments close transportation funding gaps, support capital project investment, and improve mobility.

“Tolls generated $13 billion of revenue in 2013, up from $10 billion in 2008,” the Council of State Governments states. And “a number of factors make it likely that tolling will continue to grow in the United States.”

The brief points to the $121 billion in time and fuel that American drivers wasted on the road in 2011, noting that “Congress has not raised taxes and has struggled for years to come up with the kinds of revenues analysts say are needed to invest in the nation’s infrastructure. States have turned to raising their own revenues through gas tax increases, ballot initiatives, and tolling to support new road capacity and improvements.”

The Council of State Governments cites a half-dozen states—including Virginia, New York, Missouri, Rhode Island, Florida, and Georgia—that are either considering tolling as a viable financing option, or planning new toll projects. And it documents the small but still significant backlash against tolling that has broken out in some parts of the country, with Texas as the epicenter.

“Toll advocates warn that the anti-toll movement threatens both toll concessions as part of public-private partnerships and government toll agencies,” the brief states. “They also contend that a shift away from tolling as a user fee will make it more difficult to make a transition from per-gallon taxes to per-mile charges, which analysts say will be necessary as vehicle fuel efficiency improves and other factors continue to erode gas tax revenues in the years ahead.”

It makes perfect sense that a balanced, reasoned analysis of tolling as a highway funding option would come from an organization that represents state governments: States, regions, and municipalities have been on the front line of the highway funding crisis, where the day-to-day impacts of underfunding are most obvious.

It is exciting and gratifying to see a new voice join the debate. IBTTA commends the Council of State Governments for taking such an objective and forward thinking position in favor of sustainable infrastructure funding.

Click here for the latest on IBTTA’s Moving America Forward campaign.

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