The U.S. Senate has resumed debate on the Highway Reauthorization Bill (H.R. 3) and U.S. Senators Hutchison (R-TX) and Nelson (D-NE) will offer their amendment to prevent tolls on existing lanes of the Interstate highways. The Senate could vote on this amendment as early as this afternoon (5/10). So far several thousand letters have been sent and phone calls have been made to U.S. Senators. We need your help in the following states: CA, CO, DE, GA, FL, HI, ID, IN, IL, KS, KY, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NM, NV, OH, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, UT, WA, WI, WV. One or both U.S. Senators in these states have NOT made a decision on supporting the Hutchison (R-TX) – Nelson (D-NE) Amendment to H.R. 3: Prevent tolls on existing Interstate highways.
You can help by contacting your U.S. Senator and ask them to SUPPORT the Hutchison – Nelson Amendment to H.R. 3: Prevent tolls on existing Interstate highways. Also call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or write. A sample letter is available at this Web address: http://capwiz.com/ata/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=7532296. In addition, we are asking that you have all of your management team call and write their U.S. Senators as well. Your U.S. Senators must hear from you.
WHY SUPPORT THE AMENDMENT?
- Tolls on existing Interstates represent double taxation. Motorists pay gas taxes, and truckers pay diesel taxes, excise taxes on new tractors and trailers, a vehicle use tax, and a tax on tires in order to fund these roads. Imposing a second, even greater tax burden through tolls would be unfair and inequitable.
- The public, by a wide margin, opposes tolls on the existing Interstate system. A 2004 national survey conducted for ATA by Public Opinion Strategies found that 66% of likely voters opposed Congress giving states the authority to toll existing Interstates.
- Tolls on existing Interstates would cause substantial diversion of traffic to other, possibly less safe, roads. Tolls would make the Interstates unaffordable to many users. A study of the proposed toll pilot for I-81 in Virginia predicts that a toll of 25 cents per mile would cause nearly half of all trucks to divert to other roads. Such traffic diversion creates congestion on local roads and increases accident exposure.
- Tolls are an inefficient funding mechanism. The New York State Thruway Authority, for example, spent $72.2 million in 2003 to collect $427.2 million in tolls, or 17% of the revenues collected, not counting overhead expenses or capital costs associated with the toll facilities. By contrast, the average administrative cost of fuel taxes is less than 1% of the revenues collected.
- The highway bill creates a commission to study and make recommendations to Congress on how to fund surface transportation in the years ahead. All funding options, including fuel taxes, tolls, bonds, and mileage taxes will be explored. It is premature, therefore, to make the decision now that tolls are the appropriate funding mechanism for Interstate highways.