Thursday, May 01, 2014

Transportation Department asks Congress to let states toll interstates to pay for reconstruction

Most of the country's 47,000 miles of interstate highways run through rural America, even if most drivers are going too fast to appreciate it, or don't have the time to stop and visit, unless it's for a quick fill-up, a bathroom break and some fast food before they head back out on the road. But interstate drivers could soon be forced to slow down and take a closer look, if only for a few seconds, as they reach into their wallets for some cash to pay tolls.

"The U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday asked Congress to end the prohibition on tolling existing interstate highways as a way of paying for their reconstruction, marking a major shift away from how the system has been funded for decades," Curtis Tate reports for McClatchy Newspapers.

"The proposal is part of President Barack Obama’s $302 billion infrastructure bill aimed at addressing a looming shortfall in the federal Highway Trust Fund," Tate writes. "States are currently able to toll interstates only to add lanes, but many simply don’t have the funds they need to widen or rebuild the oldest sections of interstate, and nor does the federal government."

Currently "31 states rely on federal funds for more than half their highway and bridge improvements," according to American Road and Transportation Builders Association, a trade group, Tate writes. But "Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Tuesday that the federal Highway Trust Fund is set to run out of cash in August, a scenario that would hurt most states." (Read more)
Department of Transportation map; click on it to view a larger version

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