TCA partners with Alliance for Toll Free Interstates to push back against tolls

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The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has partnered again this year with the Alliance for Toll Free Interstates (ATFI). ATFI is a national coalition comprised of individuals, businesses, and organizations working to maintain the longstanding policy of protecting existing interstates from new tolls.

As a partner, TCA is working with like-minded businesses and organizations to push back against tolls. To date, ATFI and TCA have been working diligently to fight tolls in several different states.

Rhode Island is leading the charge when it comes to abusing tolling policy and creating harmful transportation solutions.  In the winter of 2016, Rhode Island passed RhodeWorks, a bill to create an entire network of new tolls across the state. The plan exploits a federal exemption that is meant to repair lone, ailing bridges to instead create a statewide tolling system. The implementation so far has been rocky, with RI facing both constitutional and legal hurdles—including the American Trucking Associations filing a federal lawsuit against the state.

Taking its lead from Rhode Island’s use of the federal bridge exemption, Indiana began to look at tolling its highways in 2017. A 2017 transportation package passed by the Indiana General Assembly allowed for the study and consideration of tolling practically all major Indiana highways. After months of debate, in November 2018, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced he would not move forward with adding tolls on Indiana roads. ATFI was central to pushing the anti-tolls message in Indiana. Since 2017, ATFI has run www.NoTollsIndiana.com and www.Facebook.com/notollsindiana. The campaign continues to encourage Hoosiers to oppose tolls in Indiana through emails and social media. Their website petition has received more than 3,700 signatures and over 1,000 emails to Indiana legislators have been generated.

During the 2019 Virginia General Assembly Session, there were several bills to toll Interstate 81. ATFI partnered with the state trucking association, Virginia Manufacturers Association and several other trade associations to oppose the toll proposals. After defeating that legislation during the Regular Session, six weeks later when legislators returned to consider vetoed legislation, the General Assembly adopted a series of tax increases and higher fees to fund improvements to I-81. This was coupled with an informal agreement that the current Administration would not seek tolls on I-81 in the future.

As of May 2019, Connecticut is currently undergoing a heavy battle on how to finance its Special Transportation Fund to fund its transportation system. At the start of the 2019 Connecticut General Assembly Session, Governor Ned Lamont proposed establishing electronic tolls on Interstates 84, 91 and 95 and on the Merritt Parkway. Lamont thinks tolls could raise $800 million annually and as much as 40% of revenues could come from out-of-state travelers. Republican legislators have offered a counter-proposal, Prioritize Progress, which would steer clear of tolls. Governor Lamont also began to push for “public-private partnerships” (known by the acronym “P3s”) to help find a suitable funding solution.

Additionally, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan wants to expand several toll interstates in the Washington, D.C.,-metro area using “public-private partnerships”. Governor Hogan thinks the project would reduce congestion in the region, which has some of the most gridlocked roads in the nation. Challengers say the Governor’s approach focuses too much on highways and not enough on transit and other forms of transportation. Opponents tried to block the project at the Maryland statehouse this year, but their efforts were unsuccessful. The state is presently conducting environmental impact studies about the project.

ATFI and TCA will continue to work together to stop tolls from spreading across the country. For more information, visit the ATFI website.