NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Truck Friendly Tolls for 21st Century Interstates

August 4, 2015

Of all highway users, the trucking industry has the most at stake in ensuring a solid future for the Interstate highway system. The importance of the Interstates will be even greater in coming decades, since the U.S. Department of Transportation forecasts there will be 40% more trucks on the road by 2045.

A new study by Robert Poole, Jr. at the Reason Foundation examines the value of an interstate highway system to trucking companies, finding:

  • Data reveal that only about 6% of the $50 billion a year Highway Trust Fund program is actually spent on "major" highway and bridge projects.
  • A diesel tax large enough to fund a new highway system could shift transportation away from trucks, and fuel systems away from diesel resulting in less revenue.
  • Evidence exists that electronic toll systems can be made efficiently, using only four percent to 10 percent of revenue for operation.

The study estimates that heavy trucks today pay, via diesel taxes, about 7.2 cents/mile on non-tolled Interstates. That amount is markedly insufficient to pay for reconstruction and widening of the Interstates. On the replacement Interstates, using toll rates from the Interstate 2.0 study and with rebates of current diesel taxes, the toll cost would be 14 cents/mile -- nearly double the diesel tax rate, but sufficient to pay for the reconstruction and widening. That is only half of what trucks are paying today on legacy tolled Interstates -- an average of 27.1 cents/mile in diesel tax plus tolls.

Source: Robert J. Poole, Jr., "Truck Friendly Tolls for 21st Century Interstates," Reason Foundation, July 2015.


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