May 6, 2014

Obama wants you to pay tolls on the freeway system

Washington Post  With pressure mounting to avert a transportation funding crisis this summer, the Obama administration opened the door for states to collect tolls on interstate highways to raise revenue for roadway repairs.

The proposal, contained in a four-year, $302 billion White House transportation bill, would reverse a long-standing federal prohibition on most interstate tolling.

Though some older segments of the network — notably the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes and Interstate 95 in Maryland and Interstate 495 in Virginia — are toll roads, most of the 46,876-mile system has been toll-free.

“We believe that this is an area where the states have to make their own decisions,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We want to open the aperture, if you will, to allow more states to choose to make broader use of tolling, to have that option available.”


Anonymous said...

There is nothing new under the sun, not even these punitive schemes of regressive taxation that always end up piling more burdens upon those who can afford it the least. Adam Smith saw through this one over two hundred and thirty plus years ago:

"First, if the tolls which are levied at the turnpikes should
ever be considered as one of the resources for supplying the
exigencies of the state, they would certainly be augmented as those exigencies were supposed to require. According to the policy of
Great Britain, therefore, they would probably be augmented very
fast. The facility with which a great revenue could be drawn from them would probably encourage administration to recur very frequently to this resource. Though it may, perhaps, be more than doubtful whether half a million could by any economy be saved out of the present tolls,
it can scarce be doubted but that a million might be saved out of them if they were doubled: and perhaps two millions if they were
tripled. This great revenue, too, might be levied without the appointment of a single new officer to collect and receive it. But the turnpike tolls being continually augmented in this manner, instead of facilitating the inland commerce of the country as at present, would soon become a very great incumbrance upon it. The expense of transporting all heavy goods from one part of the country to another would soon be so much increased, the market for all such goods, consequently, would soon be so much narrowed, that their production would be in a great measure discouraged, and the most important branches of the domestic industry of the country annihilated altogether.

Secondly, a tax upon carriages in proportion to their weight,
though a very equal tax when applied to the sole purpose of
repairing the roads, is a very unequal one when applied to any other purpose, or to supply the common exigencies of the state. When it is applied to the sole purpose above mentioned, each carriage is supposed to pay exactly for the wear and tear which that carriage occasions
of the roads. But when it is applied to any other purpose, each
carriage is supposed to pay for more than that wear and tear, and
contributes to the supply of some other exigency of the state. But
as the turnpike toll raises the price of goods in proportion to
their weight, and not to their value, it is chiefly paid by the
consumers of coarse and bulky, not by those of precious and light,
commodities. Whatever exigency of the state therefore this tax might
be intended to supply, that exigency would be chiefly supplied at the expense of the poor, not the rich; at the expense of those who are least able to supply it, not of those who are most able."

Anonymous said...

In Illinois, the Tollway around Chicago had tolls that were only supposed to be in effect until the bonds were paid off... about 20 years.

Well, we're still paying. Maybe 40 or 50 years later. And the tolls have been raised quite a bit, both to pay off debts, and possibly to pay for 'political' jobs.