Interstate tolling ban moves forward as part of transportation legislation

| 11/9/2007

A conference committee for the Fiscal Year 2008 Transportation Appropriations bill emerged late Thursday, Nov. 8, with a version that included prohibition on interstate tolling in Texas.

An amendment introduced to the Senate’s version of the bill by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX, was rolled into the final version of the bill, according to a press release from Hutchison’s office.

Hutchison introduced her amendment in September to ban tolling on existing interstates in Texas until September 2008. She hopes for more permanent legislation in the future.

“Today we are one step closer to protecting Texas taxpayers from paying twice for a federal highway,” Hutchison said in a press release. “I will continue working with my colleagues to push for a permanent prohibition of tolling existing federal highways.”

Hutchison’s amendment also prevents states from a “buy back” of interstate highways for the purpose of tolling.

She filed the amendment after learning about the Texas Department of Transportation’s legislative agenda titled “Forward Momentum” that aims to overturn federal laws that restrict interstate tolling to certain pilot programs.

Hutchison has said she hopes to push for a permanent ban on interstate tolling in 2009, when the next large-scale highway funding legislation is up for renewal.

Despite high praise by Hutchison and others regarding the ban, word on Capitol Hill was that President Bush was planning to veto the overall legislation as it related to transportation appropriations.

The final version of the appropriations bill will more than likely be filed on Tuesday, Nov. 13. The House and Senate will vote on the final version either Tuesday or Wednesday.

– By David Tanner, staff writer