Alleged Trump infrastructure plan calls for expanding interstate tolling

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The leaked plan suggests that the ban on tolling existing Interstate lanes should be removed, to give states “greater flexibility” in drumming up infrastructure funding.The leaked plan suggests that the ban on tolling existing Interstate lanes should be removed, to give states “greater flexibility” in drumming up infrastructure funding.

A six-page document circling the web the past day, being billed as a leak of the Trump Administration’s outline for an infrastructure funding plan, calls for greater tolling of U.S Interstates and other privatized funding mechanisms to draw revenue for road and bridge projects. The document offers little in the way of details on spending or how the incentive packages for states and private investors would work.

The policies within the six-page untitled document would put the onus on states and private investors to fund infrastructure projects, like new highways and bridges, road repairs and expansion projects, rather than on the federal government, where it has been since the onset of the U.S. highway system.

The White House has not confirmed the efficacy of the document, but its proposals are in line with the Trump Administration’s previous calls to use federal spending to spur private investment into U.S. infrastructure projects.

Incentivized grants, as the document calls them, will be the main funding source for infrastructure projects under the alleged Trump plan. Such incentives would “encourage state, local and private investment in core infrastructure by providing incentives in the form of grants.”

The leaked plan calls for “allow[ing] states flexibility to toll on interstates and reinvest toll revenues in infrastructure” and allowing states to commercialize public rest areas as a means to drum up highway funding. Current law forbids adding tolls to existing Interstate lanes. The Trump plan hints it would remove that ban.

Quick to oppose the principles purportedly outlined by the White House, the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates calls it “a reversal of President Trump’s commitment to putting America first.”

“Tolls are simply a new tax. They are wildly inefficient, sacrificing money that could go toward construction instead going to corporate profits and administrative costs. In addition to the diversion onto secondary roads which causes congestion and public safety issues, tolls will do unimaginable harm to businesses, as shipping and manufacturing prices skyrocket to account for these new costs,” ATFI said in a statement. “It would take money from hardworking Americans and give huge profits to toll road investors – many of which are foreign companies.”

Likewise, the National Association of Truck Stop Owners took issue with the call to commercialize rest areas and ramp up tolling. “As an industry that depends on the efficient movement of motorists and goods along the Interstate Highway System, we understand that infrastructure is the key to a strong U.S. economy,” said NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings. “It is therefore imperative that the federal government maintain its strong national role in infrastructure development, and not relinquish its responsibility to the states or the private sector. We urge the administration to refrain from widespread tolling of America’s infrastructure and the commercialization of interstate rest areas.”