You can thank Congress for all those tolls that will soon hit the Cincinnati region

This should be a wake-up call for not just the lawmakers who have failed to raise the gas tax since 1993 or peg it to inflation, but also every voter. Locally we hear constantly from the group opposed to the use of tolls to pay for the Brent Spence Bridge or I-75 reconstruction, but the Highway Trust Fund has been bankrupt for many years and surviving on bailouts from Congress year-after-year.

Yes, of course it’s far past time to raise the artificially low gas tax, but it is also time to change the way in which we collect funds to maintain our system and add to its capacity. Instead of a simple tax on gasoline consumption, we should move to a tax that charges people based on how much they use our roadways, not how much they consume gasoline. More from The Hill:

The Department of Transportation (DOT) on Tuesday moved up its projected bankruptcy date for the trust fund that is used to pay for road and transit projects, saying it will now run dry by the end of August. The DOT has warned that the transportation funding shortfall could force state and local governments to cancel infrastructure projects scheduled to begin this summer because federal money will not be able to assist with construction costs.

The Highway Trust Fund is normally filled by revenue collected by the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax. The gas tax has not be increased since 1993 and infrastructure expenses have outpaced receipts by about $20 billion in recent years as Americans drive less frequently and cars become more fuel efficient. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that lawmakers will have to authorize $100 billion in new spending in addition to the $34 billion that is expected to brought in annually by the gas tax to approve a new six-year transportation bill, which is the length being sought by infrastructure advocates.

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  • Mark Christol

    yeah, some kind of tax on vehicle weight & miles traveled.
    With more bicycle infrastructure I could see a sales tax on new bikes but that would probably just be a local thing which would probably drive all the bike shops out of the towns.

  • Jeff Klein

    Why should the gas tax be raised at all? I don’t see the rationale in that. In my opinion, there should absolutely be tolls. those that use the bridge should pay for it. The solution to every challenge in America is to not simply raise taxes.

    • The ideal scenario would be for a “road tax” to be tied to the number of miles we actually drive (VMT). But there is no method for doing so that won’t upset some people, since odometers would need to be checked by some governmental agency. It makes more sense to adopt a VMT than trying to toll every bridge and highway in the country.

    • You’re right. Increased taxes are not always the answer. But the cost of things does rise over time. This is true for building and maintaining our roads, but our revenues to pay for those expenses have not kept up with that inflation since the gas tax has been unchanged for more than two decades.

  • Andrew Boughan

    I think that if people want to drive they should have to pay, and I think that tolls are the best options that we have available at this point without raising taxes for everyone.

  • EDG

    Tolling points for the BSB replacement haven’t been explained at all. They should be at 275 to reduce congestion and capture interstate freight and drivers versus some closer point within the bypass to toll someone going from Ft. Mitchell to downtown. Commuters from KY have a valid concern since they’re on the opposite side of the job center.

  • Jeff Klein

    Why should there be a tax on mileage? We already pay a tax on how much we drive via the gas tax. I personally don’t see the need for yet another tax. Toll the bridge – pretty simple solution.

    • The idea is that a VMT would replace the gas tax altogether.

    • Jeff Klein

      That makes more sense, thank you.