Using America's interstate system could get more expensive in some places in the near future. Provisions in the White House-endorsed, $302 billion transportation bill would allow states to get permission from the federal government to impose tolls on them to raise money for infrastructure upkeep. Of course, some states already charge to drive on the interstates – the New Jersey turnpike, for example – but for the most part charges are rare on the federally funded roads.

"We believe that this is an area where the states have to make their own decisions," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to the Washington Post.

Currently, interstate infrastructure upkeep is mostly funded through the US Highway Trust Fund, which collects taxes on gas and diesel fuel. However, it's no longer bringing in the money to make needed repairs. According to the Washington Post, the federal gas tax hasn't been raised or adjusted since 1993. Most states get about half of their highway funding from the federal government.

Opening up the ability for states to charge tolls is just one way the government hopes to raise money. The measures comes as part of the transportation bill that aims to fund interstate infrastructure upkeep for the next four years partially by eliminating some tax breaks on businesses. Another provision in it would increase the maximum fines that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could levy against automakers that delay recalls.

Reportedly, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are working on their own alternatives to the bill, and the Obama administration says that it's open to counter offers. Though, lawmakers don't have long to decide. According to the Washington Post, the current federal highway funding law expires at the end of September, and the Department of Transportation warns that the Highway Trust Fund could be empty as soon as this summer as well. It will be interesting to see if any of these proposals make it into the final law.


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  • 74 Comments
      Garrett
      • 7 Months Ago
      The collection of gasoline tax is very efficient and encourages fuel efficiency / lower emissions. Collecting tolls is a non-value-added activity requiring toll booths to be constructed and a payroll of operators... that's what much of the toll is used for!! Plus you have to slow down or stop for each toll plaza. Simple solution is to just tie the existing tax to inflation and be done with it.
      miles
      • 7 Months Ago
      this is great! now we can hire legions of people into a new bureaucracy so they can sit in booths in the middle of the road and harass drivers for quarters. That's so much better than jsut raising the gas tax or even indexing it to inflation. That might get someone voted out of office! /s, of course
        ferps
        • 7 Months Ago
        @miles
        why isn't the gas tax indexed to inflation? it has to be the only tax that isn't a percentage and isn't indexed to inflation. so silly.
          Edsel
          • 7 Months Ago
          @ferps
          They just enacted an inflation adjustment in Massachusetts. We already pay a tax of about fifty cents on every gallon of gas.
      MechE
      • 7 Months Ago
      Tolls blow. What really gets me is how much they change my decision on where I want to go. For example, I might not mind driving 40 mins to hit up a restaurant, factor in $16 in tolls and I start to reconsider. Traffic creates the same dilemma.
      Edsel
      • 7 Months Ago
      The government tax/fee burden is getting crazy. They begin taxing us before we're born and tax us long after we're dead and buried.
      ksrcm
      • 7 Months Ago
      Whatever you do will be fine as long as I can travel from Indianapolis to Chicago in 2 1/2 hours. If that's not going to happen, then just restrain yourselves from wasting people's money and let go. Once the infrastructure crumbles, then (as always, ONLY then) will people (as in We, The People, not politicians) realize why do we have road infrastructure in the first place and start being serious about making it work.
      hokkaido76
      • 7 Months Ago
      A direct consequence of the "I want to use public services, but I have no interest in paying for it through taxes." attitude. Congrats!
        dbauer2000
        • 7 Months Ago
        @hokkaido76
        You might want to rethink your statement as most of the current funding is done through gas taxes. Was there some other non-taxpaying base you would like to target? If you live in the states, that group is very hard to find.
          Carpinions
          • 7 Months Ago
          @dbauer2000
          The money isn't going to the right places because it doesn't pay politically for it to. It pays to pay off your elected official, who will then sing your company's (or companys's) praises without nary a second glance once the election has been won and enough bribe money has been spent. At the local level, everyone thinks everyone else's politico is the problem, so they don't change their local officials unless term limits force them to, and as long as the elected people keep the bacon coming to their state/region, nothing will change. Get elected, vote on principle, and don't bring home the bacon? F#$% YOU!
          Dmitriy Markelov
          • 7 Months Ago
          @dbauer2000
          I think the point is that the current gas tax is not sufficient to cover our crumbling infrastructure and good luck getting people to agree to higher gas taxes even though that's the right thing to do.
          keet
          • 7 Months Ago
          @dbauer2000
          the crumbling infrastructure isn't because there isn't enough taxes, it exists because the government (local and federal) refuses to use taxes responsibly! No matter how much they get, it will eventually become "not enough"
          buckfeverjohnson
          • 7 Months Ago
          @dbauer2000
          Keet is right. Gas taxes are going to bridges to nowhere, bike paths, wayside memorials and many, many more earmarks. I am happy to pay to build and maintain infrastructure, but it is all too crooked. And toll roads are charging $0.10 to $0.20 per mile per car, which is joke. Corruption just oozes out of every crack in the highway system, and it sucks.
          hokkaido76
          • 7 Months Ago
          @dbauer2000
          @Dmitriy Markelov: EXACTLY! People are upset about the condition of our infrastructure, but when proposals come around that would fix the issue in exchange for an increase in the gas tax, people balk and threaten payback at the polls. The money has to come from somewhere (last time I checked, things don't magically get paid for).
          keet
          • 7 Months Ago
          @dbauer2000
          Oh, and Dimitri, when the government proves it can do the "right thing", then maybe i'll reward it with more money.
          Dennis Clouser
          • 7 Months Ago
          @dbauer2000
          There's a $1 MILLION sidewalk along Rt 50 outside of Brooksville FL. The only thing along that stretch of road is farms!!! It took about 2 years to build it. No one is EVER walking or biking on it. There's another side being built nearby outside of Dade City for miles. This one could see more use but not worth the price tag!!
        Jim Pease
        • 7 Months Ago
        @hokkaido76
        Dennis Clouser .... I know which sidewalk you're talking about on SR50 and it boggled my mind they were putting in a sidewalk in that area. Dennis is correct. There are nothing but farms and woods along that road. There are retaining walls, culverts and handrails for this sidewalk and I haven't seen one person using any of it.
      JaredN
      • 7 Months Ago
      .gov wants to let the states steal more of our money. Why am I not surprised?
      jebibudala
      • 7 Months Ago
      This falls 100% on the hands of Prius drivers since they don't pay their fair share (they consume less fuel, and pay less fuel tax). Now everyone has to suffer once again because of Prius owners. They are so inconsiderate and didn't think about the consequences before buying a Prius. What we need is to target the Prius owners with two taxes, #1, tax them because they own a Prius, and #2 tax them heavily for every MPH they go under the posted speed limit.
        razorpit
        • 7 Months Ago
        @jebibudala
        +1 from me, I got your sarcasm...
        ctsmith1066
        • 7 Months Ago
        @jebibudala
        Compared to the total number of cars on the road, hybrids make up a pretty small %. The reason for the drop-off has been due to the increase in fuel economy industry-wide, along with the fact that the petrol tax has not increased with inflation. In effect, the tax on petrol decreases (infinitessimally) with every passing moment.
      Knightsbore
      • 7 Months Ago
      Cant we just not build tanks for a week? That would probably cover enough.
        JaredN
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Knightsbore
        We haven't bought new tanks in decades, actually.
        Car Guy
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Knightsbore
        Can we not just pay welfare checks for a week...............
          Bexly
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Car Guy
          Yeah, those stupid poor people!! Nevermind that welfare is one of the best investments of government money.
          Zoom
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Car Guy
          You want to see civil unrest in America, cut the social safety net. Occupy was childs play compared to what would happen.
        flammablewater
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Knightsbore
        No, because Congress insists on ordering tanks that even the Pentagon says it doesn't need.
      ferps
      • 7 Months Ago
      if we increased the federal gas tax by $.025 per gallon, that would be less variation than we see over the course of a year, and would pay for everything.
        in2dwww
        • 7 Months Ago
        @ferps
        I agree. Don't forget that tax on diesel is already higher than gasoline. This is because diesel has more energy density than gasoline. Just raise the gasoline tax and it's all taken care of.
      Larry Litmanen
      • 7 Months Ago
      Here's a solution, hire non unionized employees and road maintenance bills will drop by 50%. Just bunch of lies, they used money for roads to pay off the voters.
        superlightv12
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Larry Litmanen
        Here's a better idea: salary caps for ALL government employees. You should be paid based on what you can earn in the private sector. Change makers in toll booths should not earn $20 hr. They should earn cashier wages @ Walmart because the job is the same. Office staff should not be paid six figure incomes. Bonuses should not be paid for any performance factors because they do nothing to increase profitability.
          ctsmith1066
          • 7 Months Ago
          @superlightv12
          Few ideas are more adept at creating and fostering administrative corruption.
      Kenny G
      • 7 Months Ago
      Why don't WE (AH!) switch from being involved in EVERY global "conflict" on earth, to spending some of OUR tax money on OUR infrastructure HERE in the USA? I am so sick of what is supposed to be OUR Gov, just spend spend spend & screw us, our children & the future of "our" country? I feel big Gov is totally out of control...
        Ducman69
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Kenny G
        Look at the percentage of our military budget compared to our social services budget. Social services comprise 68% of our budget, and the much smaller military portion ensures that American interests, the type of interests that ensure cheap energy and jobs in the United States by protecting our assets critical to our economy, are kept safe. The way the democrats try to make the military budget seem large is to look at only the discretionary budget, and completely ignore that military spending is currently under 1/3rd of hand-out programs. These are the handouts that comprise the largest portion of our budget by and far, and that can use trimming. Only 1% of our current budget is actually used towards maintaining infrastructure, despite a larger amount than that already collected via taxes that should be paying for roads (such as fuel taxes).
          inktownlegend
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Ducman69
          Republican or Democrat does not matter to me. Too much is spent on the military and too much is spent on social services. More money needs to be going to education period.
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