NATSO, Anti-Tolling Coalition Blast FHWA for Promoting Failed Tolling Pilot Program

Friday, October 20, 2017

Richmond, VA – The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI) blasted Congress and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) over the issuance of a notice soliciting participation in the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program (ISRRPP). The ISRRPP is one of the few ways the federal government allows for tolls to be placed on existing interstates. Today’s notice grants states until February 20 to submit applications for three potential slots.

“When a 20-year-old pilot program has not been utilized successfully in a single instance, it’s time for Congress to pull the plug on the program,” said Stephanie Kane, spokesperson for ATFI. “Several states have tried to implement the pilot program and they have each come to the same conclusion – that tolls on existing interstates are bad for motorists, bad for the economy and wildly unpopular.”

Previous ISRRPP slots were held by Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia. Despite holding these slots for nearly two decades, not a single toll road was ever built. In 2011, Virginia was granted conditional approval to place tolls on Interstate 95. What followed was an economic study funded at taxpayer expense. Virginia ultimately recognized that the inefficiency of toll collection, the harmful consequences for businesses due to traffic diversion, and the diminished safety and increased maintenance costs of secondary roads far outweighed any perceived benefits to the state. Likewise, North Carolina spent public funds studying and debating tolls only to come to the same conclusion.

“Congress and the FHWA should abandon the call for new state tolling pilots and instead focus on real solutions that improve our surface infrastructure and citizens will support,” said Stephanie Kane, spokesperson for ATFI. “Instead, with Congressional backing, the FHWA is doubling down on a failed program and begging states to apply.”

“States that pursue tolling under the ISRRPP will continue to meet with widespread disapproval from both the business community and local residents,” said Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman, Vice President of Public Affairs at NATSO. “Voters repeatedly have rejected ISRRPP tolling programs because they have so many harmful consequences. Tolling existing interstates hurts off-highway businesses that oftentimes are the economic backbone of their communities. Local communities further suffer as interstate traffic diverts onto local roads, creating significant safety concerns."

“Infrastructure needs to be paid for, but relying on expensive, inefficient, inequitable tolling plans is not the answer. The winners in tolling are the tolling companies and their Wall Street investors, and the losers are American motorists and the economy that gets weighed down by the enormous burden tolling brings with it,” said Kane. “It’s surprising that such a plan is being pushed by this Administration when President Trump campaigned as, and continues to proclaim to be, a fighter for the little guy and someone who will stand up to Wall Street.”

Tolling can waste 10 percent to 20 percent of revenues on administrative and bureaucratic costs. Tolls take a huge bite out of commuter pay, and modern electronic tolling can discriminate against the tens-of-millions of Americans who are unbanked.

With the failings of tolls so apparent, any state pursuing an ISRRPP slot should prepare for immense public backlash.

To learn more about AFTI and join the Alliance, please visit TollFreeInterstates.com. Connect with the Alliance on Twitter at @No2Tolls and Facebook at facebook.com/TollFreeInterstates.

Media Contact:
Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman
Vice President, Public Affairs
Phone: (703) 739-8578
Email: twlazlowski@natso.com