The state of Pennsylvania has renewed its bid to gain approval from the Federal Highway Administration to collect tolls on Interstate 80 after having its first attempt thwarted in late 2007. Transportation law generally prohibits tolling on interstate roads built with federal funds, such as I-80, but there are some exceptions, which require FHWA approval.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said that he does not support tolling existing interstate highways, although he is open to the idea of tolling new lanes. And as far as most drivers are concerned, they have already paid for the interstate highway system and it should remain "free" (although it is not, since all motorists pay fuel taxes to maintain and improve it).
Yet the cost of bringing the nation's roads and bridges into a state of good repair far exceeds the revenue raised by the Highway Trust Fund -- a gap of up to $240 billion annually through 2020, according to the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. Especially in this era of tight federal and state budgets, should states be given greater leeway to toll existing federal-aid interstate highways? What about just tolling new capacity? Or should tolling federal roads continue to be restricted since the public already pays for them with their fuel taxes?