U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has asked for more
time on behalf of a commission exploring highway-funding alternatives to fuel
The 12-member commission of members of Congress and
administrative appointees, according to a Congressional report, is due to
report on plausible funding mechanisms by July 1, 2007.
Peters has asked for a six-month extension. She was
confirmed Sept. 30 by the Senate to replace former Transportation Secretary
"Fuel taxes have served us very well, but I believe they
should not be the predominant method of funding transportation in the future,"
Peters told a transportation conference Oct. 29 in Portland, OR, as reported by
But, she said, the need is there to find alternative funding
"The purchasing power of the fuel tax is declining, and
every indication is that it is going to continue to decline in the future,"
The gasoline tax, an example cited in the Congressional
report, hasn't been increased since 1993 from 18.4 cents per gallon.
Future funding may come from toll roads, mileage-based user
fees and increased private investment in road building and operation of
Peters favors state control over highway projects over
federal jurisdiction, according to Congressional Quarterly, and that
makes some lawmakers nervous who are opposed to privatization - lawmakers like
Rep. James Oberstar, D-MN.
"We are concerned that DOT and the administration might be
trying to push it in a particular direction for political reasons - not policy
reasons," Oberstar spokesman Jim Berard told Congressional Quarterly.