Plan would damage the economy and allow the government to track motorists using toll tags
April 30, 2014
The White House sent a transportation plan to Congress yesterday encouraging states to turn existing interstates into toll roads, which would allow the government to easily track motorists while damaging the economy even more.
States are currently barred from tolling federal interstates except if the tolls are used to pay for the construction of additional lanes, which rarely happens, or for specific turnpikes which existed prior to the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956.
But if Congress enacts the White House plan into law, states could implement tolls on interstates throughout America, a nightmare scenario that’s already raising concerns.
“Tolling has proven to be an inefficient mechanism for collecting transportation revenue, consuming up to 20 percent of revenue generated, and those paying the toll may not even see that road improved because the president’s plan would allow toll revenue to go to other projects in the state,” the spokesman for the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates, Miles Morin, said. “The option for states to place tolls on existing interstate capacity has existed for 23 years and not a single state has used tolls in this way – not just because the idea is unpopular, but because it’s bad policy.”
“Tolling existing interstates is inefficient, causes traffic diversion and increases supply chain costs that hurt businesses and consumers.”
And it would also allow the government to easily track motorists by connecting to their toll tags, which is already happening in New York.
Both the New York City Department of Transportation and Transcom, a traffic management agency, admitted that for nearly 20 years they have been using antennas to connect to E-ZPass toll tags in vehicles traveling not just in New York but neighboring states as well.
“We’re being watched in ways that I think none of us would have imagined,” the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Donna Lieberman, told WBGO.org. “It’s happening without any public scrutiny, without any decision that’s consistent with checks and balances.”
And sure enough, the idea to start charging tolls on existing interstates originated at the federal level.
Back in 1998, Congress created the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Program which offered states the option to generate road maintenance revenue by tolling sections of existing interstate.
But due to strong public opposition, none of the states ever joined the program.
“All efforts to place tolls on existing interstate lanes under the ISRRPP have been unsuccessful,” the Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy for the International Franchise Association, Jay Perron, said. “Numerous states, as well as the federal government, have wasted time and squandered millions of dollars through both the application process and studies conducted to analyze the impacts of tolls on area communities.”
“It defies logic to extend an initiative that failed at the pilot level to the entire country.”
Yet that’s exactly what the White House is trying to do now, and considering the Obama administration’s long history of top-down decisions which have only exacerbated both the loss of privacy rights and America’s economic decline, it comes as no surprise.
“If you bought it, a truck brought it,” states an old adage by the trucking industry, so expect to pay more for everything you buy while also giving up more of your privacy if interstate tolling is implemented.