America’s roads and bridges are in bad shape and the gas tax is not generating enough funds to keep up with repairs. Rather than add to the gas tax, some lawyers have suggested a “user fee” be implemented on the nation’s highways. In other words, new tolls.
In an article written for BNA’s Daily Report for Executive two attorneys, Jack Schendorf and Elizabeth Bell of the Covington & Burling Law Firm, have proposed two alternatives to increasing the gas tax. One proposal is a “Federal Interstate User Fee” that would impact all interstate drivers. The second proposal is a “Federal Motor Carrier User Fee” that would impact and be limited to commercial trucks.
By putting these two proposed fees into action all vehicles would be charged that use the interstate system of the US. The revenue generated by these fees would be used to repair and modernize America’s interstate system. Schenendorf and Bell explain:
This fee would be collected through a system like E-Z Pass that would detect entry onto and exit from interstate highways. No tollbooths or other major structures would be constructed in order to collect the user fee. Rather, the system would be completely electronic. Standardized transponders could be included on newly manufactured vehicles and retrofitted to older models. Entry and exit data would be collected by electronic readers stationed at highway on and off-ramps.
Fees would be set at the level necessary to reimburse states for the federal share of the costs of restoring the Interstate Highway System to a state of good repair and the costs of expanding and modernizing the system, including projects for the improvement of international points of entry and exit.
These are new tolls—or more accurately additional tolls. Drivers would still have to pay the normal toll to enter the highway systems. In addition to those entry tolls these new “user fees” would be added so drivers would get hit twice by tolls. Truck drivers would only be susceptible to the “Federal Motor Carrier User Fee” and not the “Federal Interstate User Fee”. An interesting idea. Ideally, the money collected by a highway’s tolls would go right back towards maintaining and improving said highway.
Here is another idea. In a country where gas prices have sky rocketed even after America’s oil reserves have been tapped into. In a country where the unemployment rate continues to climb. In a country where one home is foreclosed on every 90 seconds; how about we stop raising the price of things and create a new Civilian Conservation Corp—a new CCC.
Not only would a new CCC put people back to work but it would fix the infrastructure of the USA. It worked once and it can work again. Plus with 50% of American students dropping out of high school a new CCC could teach young uneducated Americans a meaningful trade; a trade that can be used to get a job later on. Thus, people will be able provide for themselves rather than relying on state funded assistance programs.
If increasing the price of tolls nationwide in place of increasing the gas tax is the best idea people can come up with; the complicated logistics and time involved in creating a new CCC does not seem so crazy after all. Additionally, it is no secret that as the price of gas increases so does the price of goods that are hauled in trucks, and in America that is practically everything. By adding an additional toll onto truck drivers in a climate where gas prices are not decreasing the cost of products are going to continually climb — including the necessary products needed to fix our nations infrastructure.
We need creative solutions to this complicated problem…so are high-tech tolls really the answer, or just another band-aid solution?
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail.