Study: Value-Added Tolling Could Help Fund America's Highway System

The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), the worldwide association representing toll facility owners and operators and businesses that serve them, reacted to the Reason Foundation’s release of a new study, “Value-Added Tolling: A Better Deal for America’s Highway Users” authored by Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow, Robert W. Poole, Jr.

IBTTA’s Executive Director and CEO, Patrick D. Jones, offered the following statement in support of the new study calling value-added tolling “a sound basis” for how to rebuild the Interstate Highway System:

“The Reason Foundation policy brief, ‘Value-Added Tolling,’ constitutes a sound basis on which to think about how to rebuild America’s Interstate Highway System using proven methods of toll financing that have been around for hundreds of years.

“America’s 5,000-plus miles of tolled highways, bridges and tunnels generate more than $12 billion per year in transportation funding, without putting stress on the already limited budgets of local, state and federal governments.  Now that most toll facilities are migrating to all electronic toll collection, tolls are easier to implement, cheaper to collect and more acceptable to the public than ever before.  Tolling is one of the tools in the financing tool box. While not appropriate in every circumstance, it is one of the most effective and proven ways to finance the construction, operation and maintenance of heavily traveled road, bridge and tunnel infrastructure.

“In addition, with toll financing, people know where their money is going. It goes to retire the toll road debt, support toll road operations, and pay for the vital maintenance needed to preserve the roadway.”

According to the Reason Foundation’s new study, the “Value-Added Tolling” concept calls for a new model that would apply to newly tolled highways, such as rebuilt interstate roads. The “Value-Added Tolling” concept’s aim is to establish tolling as a true highway user fee, not a hybrid of toll and tax, and to offer a positive response to long-standing concerns of highway user groups. The five policies are:

Limit the use of toll revenues to the tolled facilities;

  • Charge only enough to cover the capital and operating costs of the tolled facilities;
  • Begin tolling only when construction or reconstruction is finished;
  • Use tolls to replace—not supplement—existing fuel taxes;
  • Provide a higher level of service for tolled Interstates.

These policies are explained in greater detail in this brief overview of the new study