By Todd Spencer, OOIDA Executive Vice President
The last few months should have put all truckers back on alert for efforts to increase and expand tolls and highway privatization across the country.
Maryland, Virginia and Washington, along with the New York/New Jersey Port Authority, are just some of the places that have increased tolls or are looking at adding tolls to existing interstates. Under some of these proposals, truck tolls would go up by 200 or 300 percent.
Ohio is just one of the states looking to follow Indiana and sell off highways to the highest private bidder, who will then quickly increase tolls on truckers and other motorists to turn a profit.
The push for tolling isn’t limited to the state legislatures, as toll authorities and private banks are focused on Washington and on trying to get Congress to open the floodgates for more tolling nationwide.
Everything from giving states the OK to toll interstates to fund their repairs to turning our interstate system into a pay-by-the-mile toll road have been proposed. Advocates for these efforts are focusing on achieving success in the highway bill set for debate this fall and winter.
OOIDA is hard at work combating these efforts, but truckers need to weigh in too and tell the true story of “toll taxes” to their representatives in Washington and in state capitals. We need to focus on facts like:
Tolls are taxes, and they increase the cost of mobility at a rate much higher than any increase in the gas or diesel tax ever will.
Small-business truckers already contribute a major portion of their annual revenues to fund highway maintenance and improvements.
Tolling interstates will force truckers and other highway users to find alternate routes that may not have been built to handle high traffic volumes, costing more money in the long run.
Getting the message out on how tolls will hurt truckers and hurt the economy is having an impact. House Transportation Chairman John Mica has committed to fighting tolls on our interstates.
He and other lawmakers who oppose tolling need your help. As the debates heat up, truckers need to keep the heat on. LL