Tolling America's Future; Transportation Bill Should Ban Double-Taxing Roads
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Congress turns its attention this week to the five-year, $260 billion reauthorization of the Department of Transportation. Most of the attention has fallen on the House version of the legislation, which also would green-light the Keystone XL pipeline project and open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Democrats are steamed that Republicans would try to revive these job-creating deals.
As that controversy rages, an equally important debate on the future of America's roads is slipping by under the radar. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican, intends to offer an amendment to the Senate's version of the transportation bill to prohibit the imposition of tolls on existing interstate freeway lanes. Mrs. Hutchison's office confirmed that her proposal would not block Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's plan to erect toll booths on Interstate 95 between the North Carolina border and Fredericksburg. That's unfortunate.
The Obama administration gave preliminary approval to Mr. McDonnell's misguided scheme in September, and the response has been predictable. North Carolina saw its neighbor shaking down drivers and decided it should impose tolls as well. The domino effect continues to South Carolina, where the top transportation bureaucrat said, We are interested in tolling and listen to what other states are doing. The desire is there, but the will is not. Politicians in the Palmetto State realize the public isn't ready to swallow tolls quite yet, so they're shelving plans - for now.
There's a reason tolls aren't popular. Judging from the toll rates on the way to New York, vacationers looking to escape the Beltway in favor of a day of relaxation on Myrtle Beach could wind up paying $30 for the privilege. …