Editor’s Note: This letter was sent last week to Congress, and the National Motorists Association is one of over 80 signatories.
The Honorable Mitch McConnell The Honorable John Thune
Majority Leader Majority Whip
Senate Republican Caucus Senate Republican Caucus
United States Senate United States Senate
RE: The Republican Roadmap and Tolling
Dear Senators McConnell and Thune:
The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI) is a growing alliance of individuals, businesses, and organizations advocating for long-term, sustainable, efficient, equitable, and sensible highway infrastructure funding solutions. ATFI applauds the renewed public emphasis on infrastructure funding coming from Congress but wishes to register our opposition to tolling on existing interstates. We are particularly concerned that Senate Republicans may be considering an expansion of tolling authority, as evidenced by the promotion of “private sector investment and utilization of financing tools” in the key principles recently released in “The Republican Roadmap” framework document.
Implemented properly, infrastructure funding can provide meaningful employment opportunities while modernizing the transportation system to improve the free flow of people and goods throughout the country. However, poorly conceived infrastructure legislation can be counterproductive, causing unintended impacts that are detrimental to transportation networks, economies and local communities.
Keeping these principles in mind, ATFI strongly opposes financing surface transportation infrastructure through tolling existing interstates. Tolling interstate lanes that drivers now freely access is not only unpopular, it is the worst approach available to raising transportation revenue because:
- Tolling is an underhanded tax, not a user fee. Tolls raise business costs for moving goods through the supply chain, hurting American manufacturers and the competitiveness of local companies. Tolls force everyday consumers to shoulder the burden of paying more for goods transported by truck, even if they did not drive on the tolled road. Hardest hit by tolls will be America’s small businesses and their employees who are struggling to recover from the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Tolling existing interstates is double taxation. Since the inception of the Federal Interstate Highway System, the federal gas tax has always been the primary source of revenue for the construction and maintenance of federal interstate lanes. Every time a motorist puts gas in their vehicle, they are upholding their end of the deal for interstate maintenance. Converting non-tolled roads to tolled facilities, even when combined with a congestion relief effort, forces drivers to pay two taxes for that same road: a gas tax and a toll tax.
- Tolling is a highly inefficient, bureaucracy-laden form of taxation, to the point of being fiscally irresponsible. Even with the latest technology, the Congressional Budget Office estimates collection costs alone are at least 8 to 11 percent of revenue collected. Toll management, enforcement and operations total an even larger portion of revenues that do not go to actual road improvements. In 2018, the all-electronic North Carolina Triangle Expressway spent 36.8 percent of annual revenue on toll operating costs. If tolls are a “user fee,” diverting significant funds from infrastructure improvements violates the public trust.
- Loosening tolling restrictions amounts to the federal government shirking its responsibility to generate sustainable funding for roads. Financing through public-private partnerships does not address the long-term solvency problems of the Highway Trust Fund. Allowing states the “flexibility” to toll in fact foists the infrastructure funding problem onto state and local governments and fragments our infrastructure system.
When it comes to tolls, Americans will pay more and get less. Americans need sustainable investment in our infrastructure, not inefficient policies that take more and more money from hardworking motorists and businesses. The needs of America’s transportation network are vast and deserve serious attention without the distraction of tolls.
As infrastructure is discussed, ATFI’s members – thousands of private citizens and numerous businesses and organizations – urge you to fully reject tolling in infrastructure policy by eliminating programs for tolling existing interstates, restricting toll bridge projects and further limiting how toll revenue is spent.
Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to working with Congress on this important issue and further strengthening motorist protections from tolls. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact [email protected].
Alabama Trucking Association, Inc.
Alaska Trucking Association, Inc.
American Bakers Association
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Frozen Food Institute
American Highway Users Alliance
American Motorcyclist Association
American Moving and Storage Association
American Trucking Associations
Arizona Trucking Associations
Arkansas Trucking Association
Best Way Express
California Trucking Association
Colonial Freight Systems, Inc.
Colorado Motor Carriers Association
Delaware Motor Transport Association, Inc.
Duncan & Sons Lines, Inc.
Georgia Motor Trucking Association, Inc.
Golden Strip Transfer
Hawaii Transportation Association
Idaho Trucking Association
Illinois Trucking Association
Indiana Trucking Association
International Franchise Association
Iowa Motor Truck Association, Inc.
Kansas Motor Carrier Association
Kentucky Trucking Association
Louisiana Motor Transport Association, Inc.
Maine Motor Transport Association, Inc.
Maryland Motor Truck Association, Inc.
Trucking Association of Massachusetts
Michigan Trucking Association, Inc.
Minnesota Trucking Association
Mississippi Trucking Association
Missouri Trucking Association
Motor Carriers of Montana
Motor Transport Association of Connecticut
Motorcycle Riders Foundation
National Association of Blind Merchants
National Association of Convenience Stores
National Council of Chain Restaurants
National Motorists Association
National Private Truck Council
National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC)
National Tank Truck Carriers
NATSO, representing America’s Travel Plazas and Truckstops
Nebraska Trucking Association
Nevada Trucking Association, Inc.
New Hampshire Motor Transport Association
New Jersey Motor Truck Association
New Mexico Trucking Association
New York State Motor Truck Association
No Tolls I-95 Coalition, Inc.
North Carolina Trucking Association, Inc.
North Dakota Motor Carriers Association
Ohio Trucking Association
Oklahoma Trucking Association
Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc.
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)
Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association
Rhode Island Trucking Association, Inc.
SIGMA, America’s Leading Fuel Marketers
South Carolina Trucking Association, Inc.
South Dakota Trucking Association
Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association
Tennessee Trucking Association
Texas Trucking Association
Truck Renting and Leasing Association
Truckload Carriers Association
Utah Trucking Association
Vermont Truck and Bus Association, Inc.
Virginia Trucking Association
Volvo Group North America
Washington Trucking Associations
West Virginia Trucking Associations, Inc.
Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association
Wyoming Trucking Association, Inc.
Yellow, formerly YRC Worldwide