Anti-toll coalition vows to fight interstate tolls

After requesting to be included in a federal pilot program allowing three states to establish tolls on their interstates, the Arkansas Highway Commission is under heavy fire from a formidable anti-toll coalition. A coalition of truckers, tax reform groups and other highway users have declared Arkansas "ground zero" in their campaign to oppose double taxation of highways through tolls.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is part of a group that includes the American Trucking Associations, the Arkansas Motor Carriers Association, the American Highway Users Alliance, Americans for Tax Reform, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators and the National Taxpayers Union.

According to a survey of registered voters released by the anti-toll coalition, 77 percent of the American public does not favor toll roads. Siding with truckers on the issue is Arkansas' Gov. Mike Huckabee, who does not feel tolling in Arkansas has the broad-based support of voters in his state. Huckabee prefers to raise money with bonds and a three-cent increase in the state's diesel fuel tax.

A provision in the $203 billion transportation spending law enacted this summer allows up to three states to add tolls on their interstates. Arkansas is asking for toll authority, expecting to receive $3 billion in state and federal highway funds over the next ten years. The state projects need for $7 billion in road funds during that same period.

"It's double taxation," said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. "Truckers don't need to pay for a road that's already paid for and neither does anybody else. If Arkansas is allowed to impose tolls on part of I-40, it's going to open the door for nationwide tolls."

Other states reportedly considering tolls are Pennsylvania and Florida.