A Conservative Case for Highway Tolling

Reason Foundation

December 2, 2019

America’s highways are in trouble. Congestion on urban freeways has reached all-time highs, and the aging Interstate Highway System needs rebuilding and selective widening. Deferred maintenance for structurally deficient bridges and a teeming backlog of major projects lack funding. Most highway funding relies on gas taxes, which project declining revenues in coming decades due to the likely growth of more fuel-efficient and alternatively-powered vehicles. Yet increasing the gas tax is politically difficult, especially at the federal level.

The brief identifies various problems with 20th century tolling and introduces a 21st-century model called Value-Added Tolling that provides a genuine value proposition to highway customers, rather than treating them simply as highway users. The brief examines how this model would benefit all parties more than both the gas-tax system and 20th century tolling, and would better reflect conservative principles. The brief then explains how this model could finance the rebuilding and modernization of the aging Interstate Highway System.

Read the full report here.