(The following information is provided by Schenendorf and Bell’s report available at http://www.aem.org/PDF/2011-07-27_SchenendorfModernizingSystem.pdf).
Last week, Jack Schenendorf and Elizabeth Bell announced a proposal that would place two additional fees on vehicles traveling the Interstate.
Schenendorf and Bell, both from Covington & Burling LLP, represented the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) as they stated the ongoing problem of congestion on the nation’s roads and bridges, with a solution they feel will help fund much needed repairs.
The duo noted that greater congestion on urban roads led to “4.8 billion hours of traveler delays and consumption of an additional 3.9 billion gallons of fuel in 2009.” On top of that, the number of miles traveled doubled within the last 30 years with half of those miles being on roads in desperate need of repair.
The problem is finding the funds to fix those highways and bridges. As Schenendorf and Bell explain, “revenues generated by current law will only provide enough resources to cover less than half of what is needed to merely maintain our highways through 2035.”
In response to this problem, the AEM proposed a solution calling for two user fees that would directly benefit the Interstate System and freight-related projects.
The first, called the Federal Interstate User Fee (FIUF), would require “all vehicles using the Interstate Highway System to pay a user fee,” accounting for 25% of U.S. roads and 85% of travel. Instead of using a tollbooth, this fee would be applied through an electronic system positioned at highway on and off-ramps, and deposited into an account (within the Highway Trust Fund) strictly for the restoration and modernization of the Interstate Highway System. These standardized transponders “could be included on newly manufactured vehicles and retrofitted to older models.”
Schenendorf and Bell explained that the fees would be set “at the level necessary to reimburse the states in accordance with policies established by Congress for the federal share of these improvements” and are not a means of eliminating congestion from the Interstate.
The second is a Federal Motor Carrier User Fee, applied to commercial trucks on all roads. This fee would be gathered through a truck’s GPS system, such as those placed on Road Scholar Transport’s trucks, and placed in an exclusive account for freight-related improvements.
This too, would be placed at the necessary amount, no more or less, with the AEM stating that “trucks would not be double-charged for miles traveled on the Interstate; rather, those miles would be recorded through the Federal Interstate User Fee program.”
Schenendorf and Bell further acknowledged what they believe to be the advantages of these user fees. These include the following:
-Since they are user fees, they would not result in motor fuel or diesel fuel tax increases
-The fees would go directly towards to the Interstate System and freight-related projects, paying the “full cost of the increased federal investment” without an increase in the deficit
-It would be “a much-needed step towards post-gas tax revenue strategies”
-The rebuilding/modernization of U.S. roads would lead to job creation for those in the construction-related industries
-Instead of tracking a truck’s entire route (mile by mile), the proposal reduces a driver’s privacy concerns by only “recording entry and exit points onto the interstate”
Stay tuned to www.roadscholar.com for more updates on the AEM’s proposal and other breaking news in the trucking industry.
What do you think of the establishment of Federal Interstate User and Federal Motor Carrier User fees? Write your comments below.
Tags: AEM, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Covington & Burling LLP, Elizabeth Bell, Federal Motor Carrier User Fee, FIUF, freight, GPS system, Highway Trust Fund, Interstate Highway System, Interstate User Fee, Jack Schenendorf, news, road scholar transport, truck, trucking industry