Tolling Wisconsin’s existing Interstates will hurt the economy, double tax motorists and harm the communities burdened by traffic diverted onto secondary roads, Jim Goetz, co-president of Goetz Cos., recently wrote in an editorial published in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
Responding to calls by the tolling lobby for Wisconsin lawmakers to seriously consider tolling, Goetz said tolls are inefficient at collecting revenue, ineffective at improving traffic and hurt the communities around them. “Everyone agrees that Wisconsin’s infrastructure must be improved,” Goetz wrote, “but it must be improved the right way.”
Goetz, a member of the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI), urged Wisconsin lawmakers to avoid following in the footsteps of Illinois and Michigan, which have opted to expand tolling capacity and hurt the livelihood of motorists. NATSO is a founding member of ATFI.
Tolling existing interstate lanes, which drivers already pay for through the motor fuels tax, is the worst possible option for paying for roads. Nearly 100 percent of fuel tax revenues go toward infrastructure improvements, while nearly 30 percent of money collected through tolling is used to administer the tolls.
“If the goal is to have good roads, 99 cents for every dollar collected gets us closer to our goal than 70 to 80 cents,” Goetz said. “Just because Illinois and Michigan have chosen to expand tolling capacity even though tolls hurt the livelihood of motorists doesn’t mean Wisconsin should do the same. Such middle-school logic is an insult to Wisconsinites, and further proves that the tolling lobby is willing to pressure our sate not matter the facts.”
To toll existing interstates, states must hold one of three slots under the federal Interstate Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program (ISRRPP). In its 18 years, not a single existing interstate has been successfully tolled under the pilot due to intense public opposition. However, this past fall, Congress passed a five-year federal transportation bill that placed a "use-it-or-lose-it" provision on the ISRRPP. With the "use-it-or-lose-it" provision now in place, Wisconsin could conceivably request an ISRRPP slot in the coming years.
NATSO and ATFI think the ISRRPP should be repealed.
During Infrastructure Week, ATFI published “The Truth About Tolls” in the Washington, D.C., based political newspaper Roll Call arguing that tolling roads motorists currently use toll-free is the wrong answer to funding transportation.
“In the 18-year history of the pilot program allowing this exemption, not a single toll has been added to an existing interstate. The pilot program’s overwhelming failure shows it’s time to turn to more realistic, cost-effective and proven solutions — of which tolling is not,” ATFI wrote.
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