Safe roads and infrastructure are a life-saving investment. Especially for truck drivers who spend most of their days driving.
Unfortunately, many states are implementing toll booths as a means to pay for it. And worse, some states are suggesting that only truck drivers should pay the tolls.
The American Trucking Association has routinely come out against toll booths and in favor of a fuel tax instead. And there’s a good reason for this – toll booths cause delays which cost truck drivers money.
For example, let’s say you have to wait in line for a half an hour. If you make $0.35 per mile, that seemingly harmless little pit stop could cost you around $10, and that adds up quickly.
To add insult to injury, these delays compile hassles later down the line with deliveries and problems with parking.
Connecticut is the latest state to propose additional tolls, and some of them are exclusively for trucks. This is causing trouble for both passenger vehicles and truck drivers. Let’s take a look.
The State of Connecticut
It’s important to take a look at just how how complicated the situation is in Connecticut to understand the difficulty of getting any traction with infrastructure plans.
The new push for tolls began with Governor Neil Lamont (D). He pushed for a toll up to $1 to cross any of Connecticut’s bridges, and this was part of a ten-year $21 billion infrastructure project to repair CT’s roads.
While the funding for new infrastructure is a necessity, Senate Democrats immediately shot down the tolling policy after pushback from constituents. Many residents asked why Connecticut would charge the average person driving to work while the state remains a leader in income inequality.
Republicans in the House and Senate opposed any tolls. Instead their plan relies on borrowing from the federal government as well as the state’s own “rainy day funds”. The plan argues that they can create a Special Transportation Fund (STF) to pay back these loans, but it’s unclear how the STF would take in the necessary revenue.
Even worse than unpaid debts are tolls specifically paid by truck drivers, which is what the House Democrats proposed.
Why States Should NOT Charge Trucking Companies and Drivers More
The argument for truck-only tolls goes like this: Trucks cause more damage and stress to the roads, and the average passenger vehicle shouldn’t pay for it.
While it’s true that collective pressure from big rigs adds extra wear and tear to infrastructure, everyone benefits from trucking.
All the groceries, the food, the paper goods… everything is delivered by truck. People need truck drivers and trucking companies.
The benefits provided by truck drivers are a public good, and because of this, the trucking industry should not be the only ones to pay for repair of public roads.
Infrastructure Needs Work
As we’ve seen from unworkable plans from both Democrats and Republicans, infrastructure repair is incredibly popular with the American public but almost impossible to get done.
President Trump famously ran on infrastructure, but this promise disintegrated quickly into a joke among Washington insiders that every week was “Infrastructure Week.”
It’s time for both political parties to stop joking about this safety issue. Tolls are unpopular, and truck-only tolls are an unfair imposition.