Coalition to Congress: Give states more toll flexibility

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A coalition of highway construction groups in nearly a dozen states has launched a national campaign to urge Congress to allow states to impose tolls to pay for long-overdue highway improvements. The U.S. Tolling Coalition says Congress should provide maximum flexibility to states to add tolls to any portion of their interstate or federal highways for the purpose of reconstruction and rehabilitation.

“17 percent of our interstates and one quarter of our nation’s bridges are structurally deficient,” says Patrick Goss, coalition co-chairman and executive director of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association. “With Congress struggling to find the money to meet basic maintenance needs, allowing more tolling will stretch dollars, jumpstart construction projects and create new jobs.”

Under a pilot program, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently allowed Virginia to add tolls along the I-95 corridor in that state to pay for critical rehabilitation and upkeep. Missouri also has been cleared to add tolls. The U.S. Tolling Coalition wants to expand the program nationwide, which requires congressional authorization.

What’s good for Virginia and Missouri is good for the rest of America,” says Don Shubert, coalition co-chairman and president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association. “States are confronting accelerating pavement deterioration due to age and high traffic. As a result, American business is hurting, and we need to act now to give states the power to toll.”

Goss and Shubert recently wrote a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Transportation Committees. “Tolls are gaining public acceptance as motorists see the benefits of electronic collection systems, as well as the negative impacts of the lost buying power of fuel tax revenues,” the two wrote.