Skip to comments.Washington (DC) opens door to charging interstate tolls
Posted on 05/02/2014 12:46:32 PM PDT by nascarnation
Using America's interstate system could get more expensive in some places in the near future. Provisions in the White House-endorsed, $302 billion transportation bill would allow states to get permission from the federal government to impose tolls on them to raise money for infrastructure upkeep. Of course, some states already charge to drive on the interstates the New Jersey turnpike, for example but for the most part charges are rare on the federally funded roads.
"We believe that this is an area where the states have to make their own decisions," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to the Washington Post.
Currently, interstate infrastructure upkeep is mostly funded through the US Highway Trust Fund, which collects taxes on gas and diesel fuel. However, it's no longer bringing in the money to make needed repairs. According to the Washington Post, the federal gas tax hasn't been raised or adjusted since 1993. Most states get about half of their highway funding from the federal government.
Opening up the ability for states to charge tolls is just one way the government hopes to raise money. The measures comes as part of the transportation bill that aims to fund interstate infrastructure upkeep for the next four years partially by eliminating some tax breaks on businesses. Another provision in it would increase the maximum fines that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could levy against automakers that delay recalls.
Reportedly, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are working on their own alternatives to the bill, and the Obama administration says that it's open to counter offers. Though, lawmakers don't have long to decide. According to the Washington Post, the current federal highway funding law expires at the end of September, and the Department of Transportation warns that the Highway Trust Fund could be empty as soon as this summer as well. It will be interesting to see if any of these proposals make it into the final law.
You can never have too many taxes.
Need more money to buy more votes for incumbent politicians.
A lot of trucking companies deliberately route their trucks around toll roads wherever possible for a reason.
Generally speaking ... if there weren’t income taxes, I’d have no problem with use taxes. However ...
Whoopie! Yet another Obama tax! A man just can’t pay TOO many taxes! Right Barry!
Especially if they go to fund unionized construction jobs!
I work in D.C., live in Maryland. Don’t like the sound of that!
This is the biggest scam going. First, the state legislatures can't keep their hands off of the "infrastructure" funds and raid them for general account spending all the time. Second, even if money is spent on "infrastructure," its used to pay over-priced union salaries or for contracts with political cronies. And its also used for things like expensive electronic billboards that aren't really necessary.
Chicago (where Baraq honed his management “skills”) has a toll booth every couple miles on all the interstates.
Back when you had to actually stop and pay cash or tokens it was truly awful. Now with I-pass at least you don’t have to stop, just pay and pay and pay...
Don’t know much about the east coast. I’m sure some knowledgeable FReeper will chime in.
I looked it up. Freeway meant form of access = controlled. Some parts of the planned system had turnpikes along the proposed route and were added into the system. A few other exceptions have been made over the years, mostly in heavily democrat controlled, highly taxed areas.
I noticed in Texas that the normal route is free, but special lanes charge for faster access.
The Ohio Turnpike (I-80) is like that.
Has charged tolls since it opened in 1955 before the interstate highway system began.
Rain gardens, bike paths, greenways, public transportation and on and on and on.
If we spent the money collected for transportation where its supposed to be spent (primarily interstate roads and bridges) we would have the finest interstate roads and bridges on the planet. A good case can also be made for upkeep on freight rail.
Agreed. If they actually spent toll money on paving roads, I’d be all for it. People who use the roads can pay for them within reason. But we all know that doesn’t happen.
A buck a mile to save the planet.
Anything to get the masses out of those evil personal cars and on to “high speed rail”.
yep, there will be a toll booth North, East and South of DC. Expect it on I-95 and I-66 and I-64 coming into Virginia Beach.
Simply put, the delegates to the first Constitutional Convention had discussed the idea of delegating to Congress, via the Constitution, the specific power to build roads and canals to carry freight, but had dropped the idea. In fact, the following excerpt from Thomas Jefferson's writings reflects this.
A proposition was made to them to authorize Congress to open canals ... But the whole was rejected [emphasis added], and one of the reasons for rejection urged in debate was, that then they would have a power to erect a bank, which would render the great cities, where there were prejudices and jealousies on the subject, adverse to the reception of the Constitution. Jeffersons Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank : 1791.
In fact, President James Madison vetoed a bill by the 14th(?) Congress to build roads and canals, Madison's constitutionally required veto letter emphasizing that, other than postal roads (Clause 7 of Section 8 of Article I), the states have never delegated to Congress, via the Constitution, the specific power to build roads and canals.
Interestingly, Madison used wording from the Constitution in his letter to Congress which clearly indicates that federal power to regulate, tax and spend for a national highway system should not be interpolated from Section 8's General Defense or Commerce Clause clause powers.
And with all due respect to the family and supporters of the late President Eisenhower, please consider the following. Although Eisenhower signed the bill which established the nation's interstate highway system, Eisenhower was evidently clueless, as evidenced by Madison's veto of the public works bill, to the idea that Congress first needed to petition the states for a highways amendment to the Constitution. And if the states had chosen to ratify Eisenhower's amendement, then Congress would have had the constitutional authority that it needed to tax and spend to build the nation's highways system, and Eisenhower would have been an even greater hero than he was. So now the USA has an interstate highway system that was arguably build outside the framework of the Constitution imo.
The bottom line is that, unless the states amend the Constitution to allow Congress to lay taxes for maintaining the nation's highway system, Congress should not be laying taxes to maintain and expand the system in order to comply with Justice John Marshall's official clarification of Congress's limited power to lay taxes.
Congress is not empowered to tax for those purposes which are within the exclusive province of the States. Justice John Marshall, Gibbons v. Ogden, 1824.
So interstate highway tolls are arguably a fair way for the people and companies who use the highways to pay for them.
Wasn’t a lot of the money in Barack’s original ‘stimulus’ supposed to go to ‘infrastructure’? I would like to tell all the Dem donors that were the recipients of our hard earned taxpayer monies: GIVE IT BACK!