A new report from Los Angeles’ Reason Foundation, a libertarian-minded think tank, details how much it will cost to reconstruct and widen Interstate highways in all 50 states and shows how to pay for the modernization efforts with toll revenues.

International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association Executive Director Patrick Jones called the Interstate 2.0: Modernizing the Interstate Highway System via Toll Finance report “a serious effort to examine the costs of reconstructing and widening our 50 year old Interstate highway system using all-electronic tolling. When the Interstate highway system was first being built in the 1950s, the emphasis was on paying to get it built, creating an interconnected national system and creating immediate jobs and economic growth.”

“The Highway Trust Fund is one valuable tool to maintain roadways, bridges and tunnels, but it is not funded at a level needed to address the rebuilding of our Interstate system. The recommendations outlined in the Reason Foundation report are critical to helping bridge the huge funding gap to fund our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Tolling is one proven funding option to address this huge gap,” Jones said at a Washington, D.C., press conference last month announcing Interstate 2.0.

The report makes the case for lifting the federal prohibition on tolling existing lanes of the Interstate highway system: “As the reality of the cost of Interstate reconstruction and modernization sinks in at the legislative level, and the low cost and convenience of all-electronic toll collection becomes better understood, elected officials may catch up with public sentiment that is already receptive to tolling as better than (or less bad than) increases in transportation taxes to pay for major new investments in highway infrastructure.

“The one thing states need from Congress in the next [highway bill] reauthorization is permission for all states to use toll financing for the specific purpose of replacing worn-out Interstate pavement and bridges with new and better ones.”

Joining Jones and Reason Foundation officials for the report release were representatives of key stakeholders in federal transportation
policy: American Road and Transportation Builders Association, Associated General Contractors of America, Bipartisan Policy Center, and Transportation Transformation Group.