Sen. Inhofe Favors Lifting Interstate Tolling Ban

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he would favor removing the long-standing ban on tolling the Interstate Highway System if it would generate more and sustainable revenue for federal highway and transit programs.

Speaking at a Sept. 25 Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing on the need to invest in highway infrastructure, Sen. Inhofe said that it’s “time we look at all options” for highway funding to avoid project disruptions, public bond defaults and continued uncertainty within the Highway Trust Fund.

Sen. Inhofe said that he is committed to finding new revenue sources for the Highway Trust Fund, even if that includes “devolving the decision to toll new federal highways back to the states to ensure all users are paying their fair share.”

“I recognize removing the federal tolling prohibition is controversial, but we can’t handcuff states and local governments’ ability to maintain and modernize their obsolete roads and bridges, while also threatening 80 percent cuts to their funding,“ Inhofe said in his opening remarks at the committee hearing.

EPW Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), however, offered an alternative solution and said replacing the existing gas tax with a new sales fee would raise more revenues and head off the continuing crises over the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.

Greg Cohen, President of the American Highway Users Alliance, was among those who testified against tolling existing free interstates, saying the current pilot programs that allow tolling have “proven to be spectacular failures.”

“Where it has been tried, the public has failed to support those who claim that the tolls will be targeted primarily at visitors from other neighboring states,” Cohen said in his written testimony. “While interstate truckers and truck stops fought back, it was typically local community opposition that stopped these projects in their tracks. The pilot programs have failed and they should be repealed.”

A Congressional Budget Office report earlier this year said that absent a new revenue source or general fund transfer to address the $14 billion annual shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, current highway programs would need to be cut by almost 80 percent.

 

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman's photo

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman develops and executes communications strategies to advance NATSO’s public relations and advocacy goals. Tiffany also develops and oversees partnerships related to the NATSO Foundation’s public outreach initiatives. Tiffany lives in the D.C. metro area with her husband and their two sons.More
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