Letter from the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates to Congressional leadership in response to the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association plans to submit a financial relief request to Congress as part of the third phase of federal funding during the coronavirus pandemic.
Re: Opposing Federal Subsidies for Tolling Operators
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy and Leader Schumer:
During these unprecedented times, it is important to ensure that critical industries continue to function and job losses are minimized to the greatest extent possible. As America’s conveyor belt, our highway system, which trucks utilize to move 71% of the nation’s freight, must continue to be maintained and improved. The significant loss of revenue due to a precipitous drop-off in fuel purchases is straining transportation department budgets and has forced states to delay or cancel thousands of transportation projects. We join with state transportation departments and other groups to support additional federal funding to ensure that projects are not delayed or canceled. However, we are concerned that a request from the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Authority for $9.245 billion in federal subsidies for tolling authorities could jeopardize the allocation of funds for state departments of transportation.
Unlike transportation agencies, most tolling authorities have the ability to ride out this crisis. Privately-financed and publicly controlled toll facilities are funded through complex financial deals that have many factors contributing to their ability to endure short-term revenue drops, including overall liquidity levels, reserve accounts for debt service payments, existing cash on hand, and financial instruments securing their obligations to the public. Congress should focus on using public funds to protect the average American worker with direct investments in infrastructure rather than spending taxpayer dollars on sophisticated entities like project financiers.
Few toll roads have seen ratings changes to date, and any changes are largely related to the short-term outlook rather than a full ratings downgrade for most of these entities. Any changes mostly stemmed from existing issues with the toll authority’s debt ratios. We are only aware of one toll authority that has had a ratings downgrade to date due to existing financial issues that, while compounded by decreases in traffic resulting from the pandemic, largely was the result of the structure of its existing debt. Toll roads in better financial positions have had their ratings and outlooks affirmed despite decreases in traffic nationwide. In fact, rating agencies have affirmed that most toll agencies are likely to have sufficient liquidity to endure the short-term revenue decrease resulting from traffic reductions. Toll authorities have other non-financial options to weather the storm, such as reducing operations while traffic volumes are decreased.
Toll road agreements were entered into by sophisticated entities with more than adequate legal and financial resources to protect themselves and work with their public partners to find solutions to endure the pandemic. State and local governments are best positioned to determine needs to prevent defaults under existing concession agreements.
While we understand the concerns of toll road operators, it is clear that they are far better prepared to maintain normal operations at this time than transportation agencies are. Therefore, we request that you ensure that all federal aid to support the continuance of surface transportation capital and operations budgets is directed to transportation agencies, and not to toll facility operators.
We appreciate the opportunity to offer these comments. We thank you for your consideration and look forward to working with you on any future legislation related to our surface transportation infrastructure. Should you have any additional questions, please contact our Director of Membership & Operations, Charlie Kiefer, at email@example.com.
Alabama Trucking Association, Inc.
Alaska Trucking Association, Inc.
American Bakers Association
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Highway Users Alliance
American Motorcyclist Association
American Moving and Storage Association
American Trucking Associations
Arizona Trucking Association
Arkansas Trucking Association
Best Way Express
California Trucking Association
Colorado Motor Carriers Association
Delaware Motor Transport Association, Inc.
Duncan & Sons Lines, Inc.
Florida Trucking Association, Inc.
Georgia Motor Trucking Association, Inc.
Golden Strip Transfer
Hawaii Transportation Association
Idaho Trucking Association
Illinois Trucking Association, Inc.
Indiana Motor Truck Association, Inc.
International Foodservice Distributors Association
International Franchise Association
Iowa Motor Truck Association, Inc.
Kansas Motor Carriers Association
Kentucky Trucking Association
Louisiana Motor Transport Association, Inc.
Maine Motor Transport Association, Inc.
Maryland Motor Truck Association, Inc.
Massachusetts Motor Transp. Assoc., Inc.
Michigan Trucking Association, Inc.
Minnesota Trucking Association
Mississippi Trucking Association
Missouri Trucking Association
Motor Carriers of Montana
Motor Transport Association of Connecticut
Motorcycle Riders Foundation
National Association of Convenience Stores
National Council of Chain Restaurants
National Motorists Association
National Private Truck Council
National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC)
National Tank Truck Carriers
NATSO, representing America’s Travel Plazas and Truckstops
Nebraska Trucking Association
Nevada Trucking Association, Inc.
New Hampshire Motor Transport Assoc.
New Jersey Motor Truck Association
New Mexico Trucking Association
New York State Motor Truck Assn.
No Tolls I-95 Coalition, Inc.
North Carolina Trucking Association, Inc.
North Dakota Motor Carriers Association
Ohio Trucking Association
Oklahoma Trucking Association
Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc.
Oregon Trucking Associations, Inc.
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)
Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association
Rhode Island Trucking Association, Inc.
SIGMA: America’s Leading Fuel Marketers
South Carolina Trucking Assoc., Inc.
South Dakota Trucking Association
Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association
Tennessee Trucking Association
Texas Trucking Association
Truck Renting and Leasing Association
Truckload Carriers Association
Utah Trucking Association
Vermont Truck and Bus Association, Inc.
Virginia Trucking Association
Washington Trucking Associations
West Virginia Trucking Association, Inc.
Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association
Wyoming Trucking Association, Inc.