The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI), of which NATSO is a founding member, questioned a special commission of the Indiana Senate for its decision to hold a private meeting to determine road-funding proposals for the legislature to consider in 2017.
In an editorial titled, “Tolls short-sighted answer to interstate maintenance,” which appeared in the Sept. 2 Journal Gazette, ATFI said taxpayers deserve to be part of the discussion of how their money is spent and highlighted state tolling efforts that have failed due to strong public opposition.
The Journal Gazette reported Aug. 22 that a task force called “Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger, Safer Tomorrow” plans to host a secret meeting to draft a long-term road-funding proposal for the 2017 legislature.
“Modernizing Indiana’s road-funding mechanisms is critically important, but it should be done responsibly and transparently,” ATFI said, “especially when harmful policy ideas such as tolling existing interstates are on the table. Taxpayers deserve to be part of the discussion of how their money is spent. With a closed-door task force, a tolling plan could be conceived before the public has the chance to weigh in, thereby stripping taxpayers of their voice.”
ATFI urged Indiana to avoid seeking a slot in the federal tolling pilot program known as the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program (ISRRPP). The federal government has prohibited placing tolls on existing interstate lanes since the inception of the federal interstate highway system in 1956. However, through the ISRRPP, Congress allows up to three states to examine and potentially implement tolling on existing interstates. Under a provision in the highway bill Congress passed last year, additional states may be eligible to participate in this tolling pilot program beginning in 2017.
ATFI highlighted how strong public opposition has prevented tolling from moving forward in Virginia and North Carolina, both of which holds slots under the program. Not a single state has successfully tolled an existing interstate in the18 years of the pilot program’s existence. NATSO thinks the tolling pilot program should be repealed in its entirety.
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