Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-PA, thinks enough of keeping interstates toll-free that he filed the “Keeping America’s Freeways Free Act” as his first official legislative act in Congress.
Truckers are grateful for an ally in Thompson, who before being elected in November 2008 had worked on a grassroots effort to keep Interstate 80 toll-free in his home state.
Thompson’s bill carries the torch that his predecessor, retired Rep. John Peterson, R-PA, ignited with similarly worded legislation in 2008.
“It was a privilege for me and an honor to have the first bill that I submitted to be HR1071, “Keeping our Freeways Free,” which is really designed for highways like Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania,” Thompson said in an interview with Land Line.
“This is doing the right thing. This is good for our truckers,” he said.
“There’s nothing we use that isn’t at some point in its existence hauled by trucks. There’s raw materials being hauled one way and finished products being hauled the other way. And it’s going to be good for public safety so that our trucks don’t have to run on those secondary highways that weren’t designed to handle those loads and handle that much traffic.”
Thompson said the economy of the I-80 corridor, including that of the trucking and manufacturing industries, helped motivate his election campaign.
HR1071, filed on Friday, Feb. 13, states that the U.S. secretary of transportation “shall not permit the imposition or collection of any toll on any portion of a Federal highway facility.”
Democratic Rep. Ciro Rodriguez of Texas was the primary co-sponsor as of press time, but Thompson said he is working on garnering more support in both the House and Senate.
Truckers recognize the importance of the bill.
“We applaud Congressman Thompson, a first-year member of Congress, in making HR1071 the first bill he has sponsored in the 111th session,” said Mike Joyce, director of legislative affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
“It’s a strong signal to those who write the next highway authorization bill that tolling interstate highways has no place in developing our infrastructure. We need to look at creating new capacity in this country, not double taxing the existing capacity in this country.”
He is hopeful that his legislation will become part of the future landscape in highway funding.
Congress is due to write the next highway reauthorization bill in September. Thompson said he would like to see his legislation is incorporated into that bill.
– By David Tanner, staff writer