A recently formed group called "The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI) announced itself this week, opposing tolls on existing federal interstates.
Comprised of associations representing restaurants, trucking companies, truckstops and travel plazas as well as the moving & storage industry, vehicle rental industry, motorists, and motorcyclists, and individual citizens, the ATFI is a broad-based organization united by the belief that a viable, sustainable solution to America's transportation funding needs must not include putting new tolls on existing interstates.
ATFI is focused on educating the public and policymakers about the negative impact that tolling existing interstates will have on citizens, businesses, and the U.S. economy.
"Since its inception, The Federal Interstate Highway System has facilitated unrestricted commerce and travel throughout the country", says Jay Perron, ATFI member and Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy for the International Franchise Association. "It is vital to the U.S. supply chain and has revolutionized the way America does business. Tolling existing interstates would reverse this progress, raising costs for travelers, businesses, and consumers, and harming the many businesses and communities located along interstate routes subject to new tolls."
While federal law prohibits tolls on existing Interstate highway lanes, a federal pilot program allows three states to place tolls on existing lanes within their borders.
Since the program was created, numerous states have spent millions of dollars seeking Federal Highway Administration approval. But due to public opposition, among other reasons, not one state has implemented tolling under the program. ATFI is calling on Congress to repeal the pilot program.
With Congress debating long-term transportation funding and states looking for additional revenue, the tolling industry is pressuring lawmakers to open existing federal interstate capacity to tolls.
Numerous studies analyzing the impacts of tolling existing interstate lanes have found that tolls create significant traffic diversion onto secondary roads, carry an astronomically high cost to administer and hurt the local and regional economies surrounding the toll facilities.
President Obama's announcement yesterday brought the transportation funding debate to center-stage and demonstrated that there are many options being discussed.
Hayes Framme, spokesman for ATFI stated, "We know that Congress must find funding to meet our transportation infrastructure challenges. However, time and again, tolls have proven to be an unreliable, expensive, and inefficient means of generating revenue for roads."