U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced legislation Wednesday, Sept. 5, to prohibit tolling on existing interstate highways.
Hutchison filed the bill – S2019 – to “prohibit the imposition and collection of tolls on certain highways constructed using federal funds.”
A staff member for Hutchison told Land Line the bill specifically targets three of the Federal Highway Administration’s six interstate tolling programs. The bill calls for the value pricing program, express lanes program and the reconstruction and rehabilitation program to be done away with, the staff member said.
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, like her predecessor Norman Mineta, had developed six pilot programs for states to use to gain authority to implement interstate tolls for such things as reconstruction, rehabilitation, new construction, added highway capacity or congestion relief.
Hutchison said she believes tolls on existing interstates are a form of double taxation.
“My bill will protect drivers from paying tolls on roads that were already paid for by taxpayers,” she stated in a press release.
Hutchison said she filed the legislation partly in response to a Texas Department of Transportation report called “Forward Momentum,” delivered to Congress back in February.
The TxDOT report urges the federal government to allow states to have more authority to toll interstates and to allow states to “buy back” interstates for the purpose of tolling.
Hutchison fired back in her bill language.
“No toll shall be imposed or collected on a federal highway facility that is purchased by a state on or after the date of enactment of this act,” the bill states.
Hutchison’s bill had not yet been scheduled for a Senate vote or been assigned to a committee at press time.
Hutchison’s bill does not specifically address tolls as a revenue source for new construction or capacity added to existing highways, her staff member said.
To read the bill as it was submitted by Hutchison’s office, click here. As of press time, the official archived version had not been posted by the Library of Congress.
– By David Tanner, staff writer