With highways funds running out of fuel, the White House is willing to consider new tolls on interstate highways to pay the bills and repair the roads.
The proposal is part of a larger four-year, $302 billion transportation bill that the Obama administration has sent to Congress.
If enacted, the proposal would reverse a ban on tolls for pre-existing interstate highways, a ban first enacted under the Eisenhower administration in 1956. The Department of Transportation already has a pilot program that allows states to exact tolls on new interstate highway systems.
“We want to open the aperture, if you will, to allow more states to choose to make broader use of tolling, to have that option available,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told the Washington Post.
The tolls could be used to shore up an impending shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, which DOT analysts predict will run out of money sometime in fiscal year 2014. Most of the revenue for this fund comes from an 18.4-cent tax on gasoline.
Miles Morin, spokesman for the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates, told The New York Times that tolls are an “inefficient mechanism” to collect revenue because as much as 20 percent of the revenue has to be used to manage the toll operations.
“Those paying the toll may not even see that road improved because the president’s plan would allow toll revenue to go to other projects in the state,” Morin said.