The Obama Administration’s unexpected proposal to lift the ban on tolling Interstates to pay for their reconstruction has electrified state DOTs and the P3 community. With a significant increase in federal fuel tax rates still highly unlikely, Interstate tolling offers states a new funding source and the P3 community a huge opportunity for toll concession megaprojects to rebuild and modernize aging Interstates.
But is Congress likely to go along with this proposal? A bipartisan tolling flexibility amendment to the Senate version of MAP-21 was withdrawn at the last minute in 2012 due to intense political opposition from the trucking industry. This time around, that industry has mobilized a new Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI), and congressional staffers tell me they are leery of taking on the truckers again.