The American Trucking Assns. has issued an alert to truckers urging them to contact their U.S. senators to oppose an amendment to the highway reauthorization bill that would expand authority to establish tolls on Interstate highways and to support another amendment that would limit tolling authority.
The Senate is expected to vote on two important tolling amendments as part of S. 1813, the highway reauthorization bill: Hutchison #1568, which would limit tolling authority; and Carper #1670, which would expand tolling authority. Voting on the measures are expected to be held Tuesday, March 13.
“Please contact your senators to urge them to vote YES on #1568 and NO on #1670,” ATA said in its call to action. “Your input and participation is critical. Your U.S. senators must hear from you if we are to win this battle.”
Bill Graves, president & CEO of ATA, sent a letter last week to all U.S. senate offices signed by the entire anti-tolling coalition, including all 50 state trucking associations, to oppose the Carper amendment.
To receive your senators’ office phone numbers go to: http://capwiz.com/ata/callalert/index.tt?alertid=61078851.
ATA has provided the following talking points it said can aid truckers in communicating with legislators on the tolling issue:
• A vote for tolls is a vote to increase taxes. If you oppose increasing the fuel tax or other user fees, you should also oppose the expansion of tolling. All of these affect Americans’ pocketbooks the same way.
• Tolls are an extremely inefficient way to pay for transportation. While the collection costs for fuel taxes are no greater than 2% of receipts, the administrative costs of tolling, even on toll roads which use the most advanced technology, are 20 cents or more out of each dollar collected.
• Tolls amount to double taxation. On tolled facilities, drivers still pay all applicable fuel taxes, registration fees, and other user taxes and personal property taxes, so drivers are paying twice to use a tolled facility - truly highway robbery.
• Tolls are unaffordable for many drivers. Such drivers will be forced to use less safe secondary roads which are not as well constructed as Interstate highways and will incur additional maintenance costs.
• Tolls increase the cost of moving freight. Increased costs will depress job growth, raise the price of consumer goods, and make U.S. industries less competitive. Tolls also discourage economic development in areas that rely on the Interstate System for freight deliveries because they make the cost of receiving raw materials and distributing finished products unaffordable.
• The Carper amendment is backed by Wall Street and foreign investment firms who see an opportunity to make massive profits from the tolling and privatization of highways that American taxpayers have already paid for.
• Americans are strongly opposed to tolls. According to a recent survey of AAA members in the Midwest, 65% of respondents said they opposed allowing states to toll existing highways.
• The Hutchison Amendment, #1568, ATA supports, will reduce the number of toll pilots under the Interstate Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot program from 3 to 2, and, except as allowed under the other existing pilot programs, does not allow the imposition of tolls on existing capacity on the 160,000-mi. National Highway System (which includes the Interstate System).
• The Carper Amendment, #1670, which ATA opposes, will increase the number of toll pilots under the Interstate Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot program (allowing tolling of existing Interstates) from 3 to 10, and eliminates the current caps on the number of projects that can be taken under the other 3 tolling pilot programs (Value Pricing, Express Lanes Demonstration, and Interstate System Construction).