SPECIAL FEATURE: Truckers can and do make a difference in the toll discussion

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 1/24/2013

America’s trucking professionals deserve credit for their role in defeating a pair of harmful proposals in recent months. Come to think of it, truckers do a lot of good deeds involving causes greater than themselves, and we can’t thank them enough for their big hearts and for standing up for what’s right.

The two recent examples involve infrastructure – the nation’s roadways, the lifeblood of the economy – specifically the Ohio Turnpike and New York State Thruway.

Proposals in both states had the potential to rock transportation as we know it, and not in a good way: Ohio with its possible lease of the turnpike to private investors and New York with its proposed 45 percent toll increase on trucks. To say both plans would have had negative consequences for trucking and the economy is an understatement.

Thankfully, and thanks to political pressure applied by many including truckers, cooler heads prevailed and both proposals were scrapped in favor of alternatives.

Yes, the officials who made the changes can take their share of credit, but it was the groundswell at the grassroots level that made the difference.

Truckers were on the front lines throughout, responding to calls to action, contacting their lawmakers and governors’ offices, attending meetings and filing comments. Truckers were not intimidated by the rhetoric or editorials that supported the proposals. In fact, those tend to make them work harder.

Truckers were emailing us and calling us with updates right down to the wire in both cases.

If you are among those who picked up a phone in the past few months in these two states, and you’ve spoken your mind about the value of infrastructure to the economy and how toll hikes and oppressive proposals affect you and your ability to do business, you’re on our list of people to thank. You made the difference.

Let’s keep the momentum going on some other proposals out there. One involves the replacement of an interstate bridge on Interstate 75 that connects Cincinnati with northern Kentucky. Officials there want to replace the existing toll-free bridge with a tolled bridge that could cost truckers $10 to $15 per trip to cross.

Another plan by the state of Virginia would convert I-95 into a toll road. That plan needs federal approval, but there’s a groundswell among state lawmakers to get the toll plan squashed.

Remember, truckers already pay taxes to run these highways, and the conversion to tolling would be an additional – or double – tax on a trucker’s mobility.

Call your lawmakers and let them know how you feel about these proposals. Changing the outcome is possible – look no further than Ohio and New York as examples of what can happen when the pressure is applied.

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