There is a common misconception that our roads and bridges are already paid for. Thats unfortunate because roads and bridges need regular upkeep and maintenance just like your home or any other infrastructure. And even with good maintenance, eventually they will have to be replaced. People see the roads and drive on them without realizing that the city or state that built the road raised taxes or incurred debt to build the road in the first place and regularly spends tax dollars to maintain the roads. But few, if any states are prepared to absorb the cost of replacing 50+ year old interstates and the federal government is in a poor position to help. That means that future toll revenues or new tax levies will be needed to build the roads we need for the next 50 years. The reality is that there are no free roads. There are only toll roads and tax supported roads.
The big difference is that you only pay for a toll road when you choose to drive on it. With tax supported roads, the taxes you pay on fuel, tires an other equipment go to support roads throughout the state (and in the case of federal taxes throughout the country) that you may never use. Tolling is Double Taxat ion Tolls are a fair and precise way to pay for Ptransportation facilities because there is a clear anddirect link between use of the facility and payment for that use. A toll is a user fee, not a tax. If you dont use the facility, you dont pay for it. You only pay a toll when you choose to drive on a toll road for a higher level of convenience, reliability or safety. Toll customers, through the fuel they consume, also pay their share of local, state and federal taxes to fund non-toll roads that are open to all. There may be a double payment the toll pays directly for the trip you are taking, while the government gets the benefit of the tax for use on the roads you arent using.
To meet their growing infrastructure needs, some states use both taxes and tolls to support their roads. This has benefits for motorists and those who haul freight. When a state supports some of its roads through tolling, it means the taxes collected from all drivers are available for use on the non-tolled portions (toll roads typically do not receive federal or state funding). Americas highway network is incredibly diverse and no single funding mechanism is right for every circumstance. Tolls are one of the tools in the toolbox that should be given serious consideration by state legislatures and Congress. Federal law currently prohibits the use of tolling on the existing nontolled lanes of the interstate highways. However, we would see steady improvement in our highways and bridges if CongressP
granted states the flexibility to choose tolling when its the right option for their communities and constituents.
Most transportation experts believe that collecting the gas tax is the cheapest way to raise funds to support highways. But all-electronic tolling (AET) is rapidly becoming a very inexpensive way to raise much needed funds for highways. And according to a 2012 Reason PFoundation study, the cost of collecting tolls in a mature AET system may actually be cheaper than the cost of collecting the gas tax. Cost data for some AET operations in the United States demonstrate that the net collection costs of an AET operation can be in the vicinity of five percent of the revenue collected for a $5. 00 toll (or eight percent of revenue collected for a $2. 00 toll). This suggests that toll collection costs can be similar in magnitude to the actual costs of collecting federal and state motor fuel taxes.
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