GAO to DOT: Toll roads have challenges but show promise

| 8/1/2006

A report from the Government Accountability Office states that tolling U.S. highways “has promise” to enhance mobility and reduce congestion.

But while making this statement, the accountability group claims it is not making any official recommendations to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The GAO report states more than half of the states are planning toll roads to respond to funding shortfalls or to add lane capacity.

“GAO’s review of how states implement tolling suggests three strategies that can help facilitate tolling,” the GAO report states.

Strategies include enabling legislation by lawmakers, leveraging tax dollars, and proof of tangible results to the public.

The report also states that tolling presents a number of challenges.

“For example, securing public and political support can prove difficult when the public and political leaders argue that tolling is a form of double taxation, is unreasonable because tolls do not usually cover the full costs of the projects, and is unfair to certain groups,” the report states.

Despite explaining how states use or do not use tolling to cover budgetary shortfalls and congestion on their highways, the GAO stopped short of official DOT recommendations.

“GAO is not making any recommendations,” the report states. “GAO provided a draft of this report to U.S. Department of Transportation for comment. DOT officials generally agreed with the information provided.”