Proposed bill amendments would prohibit toll funding in three states

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 8/30/2017

An appropriations bill is making its way around the House, allowing lawmakers to make any amendments they see fit. Two amendments to H.R. 3354, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, seek to prohibit any funding for establishing or collecting tolls in Pennsylvania, Washington and Oregon.

In one submitted amendment, Reps. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Mike Kelly, R-Pa., want to prohibit any funding within the bill from being used for establishing or collecting tolls on Interstate 80 in the Keystone State.

A separate amendment offered by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., seeks to exclude funding to be used to enter into an agreement for the establishment or collection of tolls on Interstate 5 or Interstate 205 in Washington or Oregon.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association strongly supports both amendments. In a letter to the lawmakers offering the amendments, OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer expressed how OOIDA members consistently oppose expansion of tolling as they lack efficiency and effectiveness compared with user-fee funding.

“Research has shown that tolling is an extremely wasteful method of funding our infrastructure compared to fuel taxes, with as much as 20% of revenue going to administrative costs rather than the construction and rehabilitation of roads and bridges,” Spencer said. “In contrast, a majority of revenue generated by user fees are devoted directly to highway maintenance and new capacity.”

Spencer mentioned that any toll expansions can significantly affect independent truckers’ bottom line. With few shippers providing toll reimbursement, the Association feels truckers are already burdened with taxes, including diesel, tires, trucks and trailers, Unified Carrier Registration, International Registration Plan and heavy vehicle use.

Furthermore, he said, expanding tolls can decrease safety on the nation’s roadways. Tolls can divert highway traffic to secondary or local roads, which are generally not equipped to handle high volume and heavy vehicles.

OOIDA has more than 2,200 small-business truckers in Washington and Oregon and more than 7,000 in Pennsylvania.

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