Foxx sends Obama highway bill to Congress, trucking groups unhappy with tolling measures

James Jaillet & Kevin Jones | April 29, 2014

The Obama administration’s transportation funding plan has officially made its way to Congress, as Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx unveiled the four-year, $302 billion plan April 29. Trucking interests, however, are not impressed, taking particular issue with the bill’s giving states the authority to toll existing Interstates and with an expanded share of funding for transit and rail programs.


Secretary Foxx receptive to notion of tolling existing interstates

Here's part of what he said: "We’ll consider finding ways to help when an option that states want to consider."

“Failing to act before the Highway Trust Fund runs out is unacceptable – and unaffordable,” Foxx said. “This proposal offers the kind of job creation and certainty that the American people want and deserve.”

The GROW AMERICA Act — Generating Renewal, Opportunity and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America — will prop up the Highway Trust Fund and rely on business tax reform to generate money for infrastructure projects, Foxx says.

The secretary also touts the 350-page bill’s aim to add jobs to the U.S. economy, address aging roads and bridges, help state and local governments plan more long-term projects, boost efficient freight networks and address regional economic needs.

A spokesman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said the leadership was still reviewing the proposed bill, but noted “many concerns,” including tolling and allowing toll revenues to be used for costs other than highways and bridges.


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The American Trucking Associations also expressed disapproval for the bill, saying it is “disappointed” by it, especially coming from President Obama – who “has talked more about the need to address our critical infrastructure deficit than any president in the past 20 years,” the ATA news release notes.

“Any proposal that moves away from a user-fee funded transportation system is not going to be acceptable to the American trucking industry, period,” President and CEO Bill Graves said. “Furthermore, we have real questions about the viability of the administration’s plan to use one-time proceeds from an unspecified and unlikely to pass corporate tax reform idea, along with inefficient highway tolling or private capital financing.”

ATA calls for a focus on “real, long-term funding answers” rather than “looking for the proverbial ‘nickels in the couch cushions.’”

“It is clear that this administration is aiming to hijack the Highway Trust Fund and convert it into a fund to finance a myriad of projects to benefit interests that do not pay user fees into the fund,” added ATA Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki.


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While trucks move nearly 70 percent of all U.S. freight, the administration proposal uses the words “truck,” “trailer” or “motor carrier” just 91 times, while referencing “train” or “rail” a remarkable 518 times, ATA points out.

“Even more disheartening, the only reference to trucking in the administration’s announcement is a proposal by the Department of Transportation to impose a one-size-fits-all compensation model on an incredibly diverse industry – an extraordinarily misguided proposal for a department that claims to be data-driven,” Osecki said.

The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates likewise blasted the bill.

“The option for states to place tolls on existing interstate capacity has existed for 23 years and not a single state has used tolls in this way – not just because the idea is unpopular, but because it’s bad policy,” said Miles Morin, spokesman for ATFI. “Tolling existing interstates is inefficient, causes traffic diversion, and increases supply chain costs that hurt businesses and consumers. Transportation infrastructure needs improvements, but of all the ways to fund them, tolling existing interstates is the worst.”


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Not surprisingly, the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association applauded the tolling language in the bill, calling it “a bold step.”

“In releasing their proposal today, Secretary Foxx and the administration recognize the importance of giving states the maximum amount of flexibility to use all appropriate funding and financing tools to meet their 21st century funding challenges,” said Patrick Jones, executive director and CEO of IBTTA. “Now is the time to incorporate new and innovative ways to fund our nation’s transportation needs. Today’s administration proposal opens the door for state governments to take advantage of all the tools in the toolbox to meet their local transportation funding needs.”

The DOT has provided summaries of the freight provisions in the bill along with the plan for highways and bridges, and a 100-page section-by-section analysis. The full bill is here.

  • Tom AndSheila Hurd

    What’s new? The Rail Roads spend all their money on executives and make the trucks pay for the failing Rail Road infrastructure

  • Stormy

    Foxx is best known in transportation for creating city bus trolleys. Did anybody expect anything more? Give it time, it will get much, much worse.

  • Steve P

    It’s Time to use the Highway Funds to fund the Highways and not everything else, like what has been going on for the last 50 years.

  • MillionsOfMiles

    “Applauded.” Is that the most obnoxious word used by inside the beltway morons? Hey, applaud this…

  • localnet

    Money for roads and bridges? The democrat Obama mantra, and $17 trillion dollars ago… Oh, can you libs count that f’n high? Hey Washington, F off!

  • localnet

    Wake up, we the tax payer funded that, and still do… Look it up.

  • trucker

    you cant fix stupid and thiefs. what total punch of crap that is.

  • David H

    I think its soon time for the trucking industry to let Washington know that enough is enough, and bring this country to a stand still and stop moving freight until there are some real steps taken, and not to hold the trucking industry hostage with tolls and FMCSA one size fits all. The trucking industry should not and dose not want to take the country hostage, but its starting to look like this will be the only way to get Washington’s attention.

  • Jack Simon

    I salute you Mr. Foxx:

    ……..(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
    ………………… ……·´

  • Fred Emini

    I think we all should get to gather and put a stop to all of this crap. We are paying for every think so I’m planing to stop doing buseniss with my trucking co. I’ve own this company for 13 years. Let’s we all stop for one week and we will see where will the trans be when all that they ship still needs a truck to deliver it.

  • g

    Fox should return to Carolina and go do something he is good at…..he is bought and paid for by wealthy interests who will benefit from Tollways.
    Who ELSE wants to PAY to drive on our roads??

  • g

    foxx sucks!!

  • Jack Simon

    that’s why he only gets a single finger salute.

  • 4b

    Two lanes will become the primaries. Scary thing is, most of these new “truckers” are scared to death when they get in construction. More wrecks will happen and more destruction of roads. I already pay a toll every time I put the nozzle in the tank. It’s called fuel tax…everybody just shut them down already….

  • mcaj

    Why not tolls on all roads, goes right along with everything else Big O is doing to DESTROY THE U.S. ECONOMY and bring America to broken socialist knees.

  • DavidMac

    Oh, I get it now! It’s YOUR fault that the federal government doesn’t have enough money to maintain our roads and bridges. Darn you, taxpayers! You better pony up, truckers, so Obama’s motorcades will be able to get to the fundraisers and golf courses on time.

  • DavidMac

    How about a fist, up close and personal?

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  • Richard

    Who is gonna pay my tolls? I guess it’s back to running the back roads of America. I don’t run the existing toll roads, so why the hell should I be told to run the new ones that states will put a toll on?
    Way to Oslama Obama, and you too Foxx.

  • shortchange

    Washington needs a complete make over. They need to cut corners
    they need to start with the jackass’s that sit on their ass an do nothing
    that covers all of Washington every one of the agents. Socialist
    country it’s become. Right now their reading these notes.

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  • USMC 69-75

    We will when they pass this bill and can’t afford the tolls! They will force us to shut down, but not until!

  • USMC 69-75

    Well you can fix stupid….it’s just not legal ….YET!

  • USMC 69-75

    Your forgetting that 2290 every year….Highway Use TAX!!!!!!!! times Oh! I don’t know 8 million trucks on the road, there bouts…….that is one chunk of change????

  • g

    Ya mean DICK Foxx?? never drove a truck anywhere…total JOKE.

  • Better Call Saul

    IFTA pays my tolls Obama……..Doesn’t it?

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