Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson Revives Effort to Ban Freeway Tolls

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
congressman glenn gt thompson revives effort to ban freeway tolls

A newly elected member of Congress is leading the effort to ban the imposition of tolls on existing interstate highways. Last week, US Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pennsylvania) introduced HR 1071, the Keeping America’s Freeways Free Act. “Tolls are taxes, plain and simple,” Thompson said in a statement. “The Interstate Highway System—the greatest public works project in history—was built with federal funding to unite our nation. The Interstate Highway System’s profound effect upon the American economy has contributed significantly to development and improved quality of life through increased economic efficiency and productivity. The Keeping Americas Freeways Free Act will preserve this notion and allow for the free flowing of commerce not only in Pennsylvania, but across the nation.”

Thompson succeeded Representative John Peterson (R), one of the staunchest opponents of tolling in Congress. Thompson vowed to keep up the federal pressure against efforts to allow a foreign corporation to toll Interstate 80, a route that cuts across the Keystone State. Parties with a financial stake in the outcome of the I-80 decision spent millions on a lobbying effort that ultimately failed to persuade the public that tolling was in their interests.

During the campaign, however, Thompson demonstrated that his interest extended beyond I-80 to a more fundamental reform of the transportation funding and earmarking process.

“We need to stop diverting money into the general operating budget of the state from the Pennsylvania Road and Bridge Fund,” Thompson said on the campaign trail. “Highway money should be spent on highways. We need to focus federal dollars where they are needed—on the roads and bridges that are most in need of repair—not in those areas where the most powerful Congressmen happen to live, or where they happen to take an interest.”

US Representative Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) joined as an original co-sponsor of the freeway tolling ban. It mirrors legislation introduced in the previous Congress by US Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

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  • Geotpf Geotpf on Feb 23, 2009
    jkross22 : February 23rd, 2009 at 12:11 pm @ psarhjinian: Do you know what percentage of your income goes to taxes? If you do, I believe you would rethink the notion that you are not taxed enough and want to be taxed more in the form of highway tolls. I’m talking fed and state income taxes, property tax, sales tax, payroll, business tax, gas tax, auto registration, electricity, natural gas, cable, cell, VOIP and land line taxes etc. etc. etc. Much of this is hard to get to by design. Seriously, if you want a sobering view of exactly how much you’re paying, add this up. I promise, you will be surprised… and horrified. The amount of taxes Americans pay is less than the amount of services we receive in return (due to consistant budget deficits). Less taxes means less roads, less schools, less trillion dollar wars. That is to say, stuff costs money. If you think that, say, the condition of roads in this country is bad, imagine how worse they will be with less money spent on them due to less taxes being collected. Now, one solution is to do the opposite of what this guy proposes-make every freeway a toll road, with those funds being used to keep said road in good condition. That way, if you don't drive on said road, your taxes will (in theory) go down to compensate.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Feb 23, 2009

    Wow, as a fellow Republican, I'd like to support GT Thompson, but he is fundamentally wrong in his definitions. Tolls are NOT taxes. Tolls are fees collected for certain activities or uses of a facility, and they pay specifically for those activities and uses. Tolls are avoidable if you do not do the activity. Taxes are nearly unavoidable. All drivers pay fuel taxes. All citizens pay school taxes, even if they don't have children in school. However, it is very hard to know where our taxes go. For example, the Pennsylvania Turnpike has been funded for over 60 years on tolls alone. Eliminating the tolls will mean all citizens will be taxed to pay for it, with much less accountability. This will raise taxes; roads are not free. I am no fan of tolls, but I am less a fan of taxes due to the lack of accountability. I know that if I do not cross a certain bridge or drive on a certain road, I can avoid a toll. Not so with many taxes, expecially income taxes. On the other hand, the story is more complex due to the mixture of toll-paid roads and tax-paid roads. Incidentally, I find the toll-paid roads are always in better condition. I'm afraid that GT's proposal will simply raise our taxes and reduce road quality.