A rather large complaint from numerous people this past six months has been the pothole problem. The highways and local roads are littered with them and driving can sometimes feel similar to a game of Frogger. The potholes are only part of a larger problem with some of the nation’s highways. Constant repair is needed and constant repair costs money.
As part of the latest transportation funding bill, the Obama administration is attempting to ease restrictions on new tolls. More tolls would generate more revenue and a nicer driving experience but at the expense of the traveler. The Tolling changes are noted in a lengthy summary of all provisions.
Part of the bill states, “[The bill] would eliminate the prohibition on tolling existing free Interstate highways, subject to the approval of the Secretary, for purposes of reconstruction, this providing States greater flexibility to use tolling as a revenue source for needed reconstruction activities on all components of their highway systems."
As it stands today, states are banned from installing new tolls on existing highways that are already toll free. Highways that are already using tolls have been grandfathered into the system which makes it legal for them to collect money from travelers.
States that want to fund maintenance or upgrades through tolls on Interstates are currently forced to receive approval from Congress. The latest funding bill would essentially shift the decision-making authority to the Department of Transportation.
The new tolling system would not only solve a short term problem but it would also be teeing up a long term change in the nation’s infrastructure. Besides revenue generation, the eased restrictions are also promoted as a way for states or public agency to implement variable tolls for the purpose of “congestion management” although such changes would be subject to approval from the Secretary of Transportation.
The bill or specific revisions may be reworked or killed as it makes its way through congress.