There are many creative solutions to current transportation funding challenges, but neither privatizing nor tolling existing interstates is an efficient, effective option.
While private entities can play a role in specific projects, such as in the case of a "design-build" project, leasing highways to private operators for a short term payout completely fails to address long-term funding needs.
Likewise, tolling existing toll-free Interstate capacity means higher administrative expenses, which can decrease actual infrastructure investment. Further, truckers are generally not reimbursed for tolls they pay out of pocket, increasing costs in a low-margin industry and putting jobs at risk.
CONSEQUENCES OF TOLLS
Tolling an existing interstate forces truckers to pay two taxes for the same road: a gas tax and a toll tax. Dedicated gas tax revenue has been the mechanism for funding interstate maintenance and construction since the Interstate Highway System was established in 1956. New tolls on existing interstate lanes would be a violation of the public trust.
Tolling facilities are expensive to build, maintain, operate and enforce. On major toll roads, toll collection costs can exceed 30% of revenue. The latest technologies only cut this to 12-20% of revenue. Compare this with the cost of collecting the federal fuel tax (~1% of revenue).
A toll on existing interstate lanes diverts traffic to local and secondary roads near toll facilities that were not built to handle interstate-level traffic volume. This contributes to increased maintenance costs, traffic accidents, and delays for local commuters and first responders who rely on secondary roads every day.
Negative Economic Impacts
Placing tolls on existing interstate lanes will increase the cost to move goods throughout the supply chain, hurting the competitiveness of U.S. companies and raising consumer prices. It will also impact communities and businesses that rely on the unhindered flow of people and goods such as restaurants and truck stops.