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Toll lanes would make trucks 'pay their own way,' AAR says


Freeway safety would rise and shipping costs would fall if trucks were separated from cars by concrete-barrier-divided toll lanes, and individual entrance and exit ramps on interstate highways.
That's what the Reason Foundation determined in its study "Toll Truckways: A New Path Toward Safer and More Efficient Freight Transportation," which the research and educational organization released June 6.
"These lanes offer greater protection from car-truck accidents while also permitting trucking and shipping companies to run larger, more economical rigs," said Robert Poole, Reason Foundation director of transportation and the study's co-author, in a prepared statement, adding that trucking firms would be willing to pay tolls to use the lanes because they could reduce costs by delivering larger loads faster and more reliably.
By analyzing five different truck size and weight scenarios supported by U.S. Department of Transportation, the study determined that Longer Combination Vehicles (LCVs) — tractor-trailer combinations weighing more than 80,000 pounds — could annually reduce trucking costs between $10 billion and $40 billion. (LCVs currently are allowed in some western and turnpike states.)
Truck lanes would be financed by toll revenue bonds supported by projected tolls (40 cents to 80 cents per mile). Toll revenue bonds would be issued to cover construction costs incurred by either a private firm under a long-term franchise agreement or a state toll-road authority.
U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) and National Safety Council support the study, as does Association of American Railroads.
AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger believes toll truckways would ease motorists' tax burden tied to highway damage caused by heavy trucks.
"The proposal explicitly endorses what railroads have said all along — that heavy trucks should pay their own way," he said in a June 6 statement. "[However], care should be taken to ensure that all costs — such as right-of-way acquisition, property taxes, truck staging areas, etc. — are fully recovered."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/12/2002