Another state eyeing I-80 tolls

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

Toll road?From Land Line magazine, published by a major independent truckers association, comes word that Wyoming lawmakers are interested in tolling Interstate 80:

"The Wyoming Senate has voted in favor of a bill that would allow the state Department of Transportation to come up with a plan to toll Interstate 80. The state would also need to come up with $350,000 to pay for a study on the plan.

"Senate lawmakers voted 18-12 to advance to the House a bill that would give the Wyoming Transportation Commission authority to charge highway users to travel I-80. In addition, WyDOT would be allowed to devise a master plan to study various tolling scenarios.

"With the tolling authority, WyDOT would be able to make a formal request to the Federal Highway Administration to set up tolling booths on I-80. The state would have to fork over $350,000 to submit the plan to the feds.

"Specific details of the toll plan in the legislation – SF35 – do not include toll rates or where tolls would be collected. The master plan, which might not be presented to Wyoming lawmakers until 2012, would determine the details."

Pennsylvania is still awaiting word from the Federal Highway Administration on its application to toll I-80, with state highway, bridge and transit budgets facing huge shortfalls if the bid is rejected.

Expect more of this for as long as federal and state lawmakers lack the gumption to raise the needed revenue for transportation systems through taxes. Tolls, like rental car and hotel taxes, are a way to stick travelers -- who don't vote in your state -- with most of the tab. Numerous localities are studying "express toll" lanes on existing highways, where motorists pay varying rates, depending on traffic volume, for the privilege of moving into the fast lane.

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