Legislation introduced Friday, April 24, would eliminate federal subsidies that now flow to privatized highways, according to the American Trucking Associations. U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced the “Transportation Access for All Americans Act” (S. 885) and “Transportation Equity for All Americans Act” (S. 884).
Current law provides private highway operators a federal subsidy through the tax code’s cost-recovery provisions. Specifically, the tax code allows a private highway operator to depreciate, or write off, the portion of a highway lease attributable to infrastructure if the lease is sufficiently long – generally, longer than the 45 years highway infrastructure is expected to last.
Meanwhile, taxpayers always end up paying higher tolls to the private operator, says ATA, which applauded the legislation. “I would like to thank Senator Bingaman and Senator Grassley for their leadership,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “We look forward to working with both gentlemen on this critical issue.”
Several state and local governments already have leased existing highways to private companies, including the Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll Road, which were leased to private operators for 99 and 75 years, respectively.