Group studies best way to pay for road work

| Friday, October 17, 2003

A branch of the National Research Council has begun a study of whether fuel taxes are the best way to pay for the nation's highways, the Fairbanks, AK-based News-Miner reported.

The Transportation Research Board study comes as Rep. Don Young, R-AK, chairman of the U.S. House Transportation Committee, is pushing to raise more money for highway work nationwide.

Young cites polls that indicate the public backs increased gasoline taxes, as long as the money goes to highway work. He advocates, at a minimum, linking the gasoline tax to the inflation rate, to protect against erosion of its buying power.

The federal gasoline tax is 18.3 cents per gallon. Alaska's is 8 cents per gallon, the lowest in the nation. The average for states is 22.6 cents per gallon.

Joseph Morris, senior program officer at the Transportation Research Board, said the study was prompted by interest from his organization, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, which is funded by states.

A 14-member volunteer panel held its first meeting Monday in Washington, DC, to ponder whether fuel taxes ought to be the primary method of paying for road work.

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