Tolls…on or off the table?

As WSAW-TV reports the task of finding a way to pay for roads in Wisconsin remains incomplete.

The trucking industry is especially upset about the latest proposal.

So the following scenario could develop:

No borrowing

No gas tax increaase

No fee increases (licenses, registrations)

No tax on trucking (and it appears the idea is DOA in the state Senate)

Then what?

Are toll roads back in the discussion?

I would guess not because they don’t solve any immediate problem.

Having gone through Illinois tolls in the past few days let me reiterate my opposition that I wrote about nearly 10 years ago in October of 2007 with some edits and additional information:

When you think of the most unpopular policy ideas in Wisconsin, what comes to

A tax on beer would have to be near the top.

Within recent memory, the automatic yearly increase in the state gasoline tax
became so unpopular it was eliminated.

How about the notion of toll roads?

The mere mention of such a proposal instantly brings visceral reactions.

Not so elsewhere around the country.

“American City and County” Magazine reports:

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), 21 states allow the use
of PPPs to fund transportation projects. Also, since the passage of the
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) in 1991, 27 states and
one territory have implemented major toll road operations, according to the
August 2006 FHA study “Current Toll Road Activity in the U.S.: A Survey and

States are using PPPs and tolls to raise revenue and handle the increasing cost
of building and maintaining new infrastructure, says Jack Basso, chief operating
officer for the Washington-based American Association of State Highway and
Transportation Officials. “Especially if it’s ‘green field’ projects, meaning
new construction, it’s a way of generating the necessary revenue to get those
facilities built a lot faster than you can do them in the traditional way, where
you have to build up a lot of capital over a lot of years and you’re being
chased [by inflation] the whole time you’re building that capital,” he says. The
“Current Toll Road Activity in the U.S.” study shows that 168 toll projects
planned or implemented since ISTEA could provide up to 14,565 lane miles of
capacity to the nation’s highway system. Also, the study projects that toll road
development will increase from 50 to 75 miles per year between 1991 and 2001 to
150 miles per year for the next 10 years. Finally, the study’s authors reach the
conclusion that “we may be on the verge of transitioning to a robust mix of
highway funding options in which tolls play a significant role.”

The rap on toll roads is the heavy volume of trucking traffic they would send to
other roads not equipped to handle the load.

Tony Giancola, executive director of the Washington-based National Association
of County Engineers (NACE) says, “One of the unintended consequences is the fact
that there may be parallel local roads or other state roads which are not
interstate or big freeway-type roads, which could, in fact, witness … an influx
of truck traffic to avoid the tolls. These roads could be overwhelmed, not only
with congestion but also because they are designed to a different level [and]
may not be able to handle the repeated truck traffic that’s going over them.”
That already happens in some states with toll roads, Giancola says, and drivers
of smaller vehicles may do the same, adding to congestion.

I hate the idea of toll roads and I think most people do.

Most, but not everyone.

There are  a couple of very, very simple reasons why tolls are an incredibly bad idea:

1) HELLO!!!! If we institute tolls, in part to force drivers from other state like Illinois to pay to use our roads, Wisconsin motorists will also have to pay the tolls.

2) We already pay our fair share in taxes, not to mention one of the
highest gas taxes in the nation to support our roads. We don’t need extra fees
to pay.

In 2014, this column was written by Hayes Framme,  is the spokesman for the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates, a coalition of businesses, organizations and individuals united in the belief that a viable, sustainable solution to America’s transportation funding needs must not include putting new tolls on existing interstates.

“Tolling is not a panacea for all transportation funding challenges and it is critical that all levels of government understand the limitations and challenges associated with tolling as a revenue source. This is especially true as it pertains to placing tolls on existing federal interstate capacity.”

A final thought:

Why must government’s solution to everything be a tax increase or a fee (tax) increase?

What’s especially disturbing right now is that it’s the Republicans in full control that want to tax and spend more.

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