In the not-too-distant future, American drivers could be paying a toll to use the Interstate. The federal government is hard-up for cash, and it is finding quite a few ways to reach into citizens’ pockets. The proposed tolls on the Interstate system is part of a bill that was recently submitted by Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. By instituting tolls, which could of course be charged electronically, the Highway Trust Fund could receive a $87 billion windfall.
The fund was set up way back under Eisenhower in 1956 and has never relied on tolls to operate. In fact, the same year it was instituted, Congressed passed a law banning states from charging a toll on Interstate roads.
The truly pathetic part is that the fund does not just maintain the Interstate system like it was originally intended to. Instead, states have been using it to fund other transportation initiatives, including mass transportation and the construction of bike lanes in cities. The result is that many Interstate roads and bridges are in shocking disrepair, as anyone who has driven across the state of Missouri can attest.
Congress has already taken steps to replenish the Highway Trust Fund by hiking gas taxes for the first time since 1993. This provision apparently is not enough to keep the fund replenished since it is tens of billions of dollars off of its mark. The Department of Transportation warns that without intervention, the fund will need to be bailed out by Congress once more in August, and nobody likes a bailout.