Drivers Weigh Taxes Against Tolls As Highway Trust Fund Nears Em - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Drivers Weigh Taxes Against Tolls As Highway Trust Fund Nears Empty

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A serious deadline for U.S. Roads is quickly approaching.

The government's main source of money for highways and bridges will run out if Congress doesn't find a way to get more money in the pot.

The federal highway trust fund will be out of money at the end of August, which will force the government to stop payment on highway projects.

One solution involves adding toll booths to interstates.

The Obama administration has proposed a number of ways to top off the tank on the government's highway trust fund.

It's fueled with gas and diesel taxes, but with Congress unlikely to raise the fuel tax in an election year, one idea is to expand toll booths.

If put into law, states would have more ability to place tolls on interstates to help rebuild and maintain them.

So TV-6 asked drivers out on I-80 Thursday- tolls, or taxes.

"We went to Big Sky Montana, it was a resort, to a wedding, a family wedding," says Ann Coatey.

The Coatey's have a lot of miles under their belts and still have quite a distance to go. They're heading back home to upstate New York.

"This section of the west there were no tolls so you can save money and you need to save it for when you head east," says Coatey.

She says the tolls are expensive and she doesn't like states that charge a toll every 15 miles, but she prefers tolls over taxes.

"I think they are if that's what they're spending the money on," says Coatey.

"I would say tolls," says Trucker Terry Fish. He says diesel and other taxes on truckers are unfair.

"As truck drivers we already get taxed way too much for the things we do, we get taxed for just driving on the roads period," says Fish.

He also notices a difference between free and toll roads.

"Toll roads for the most part are a lot better," says Fish.

Anne Harvey of Long Grove, Iowa prefers, "Taxes."

She says forget about tolls.

"You can budget for taxes more so than if you get caught out on the road and you don't have change or whatever and you get stuck somewhere," says Harvey.

"I'm going to go with tolls, I think at this point," says motorist Doug Senior.

He's driving to Chicago from Fort Collins, Colorado. He doesn't want to see tolls all over the interstate, but he likes having an option.

"It's not forced down your throat, you're not told to do it, you don't have to do it, that's why I don't want another generic big broad spectrum tax," says Senior.

"Today about seven hours," says Tom Cone, stopped at a rest stop on the way to Michigan from Arizona.

He favors taxes over tolls, because he feels tolls hurt local drivers.

"I think you hurt local people that have to use the interstate a lot and it hits them harder, so I think taxes are better for the local people, I don't think it's nearly as important for the people like us that go across them once in a while," says Cone.

The U.S. House passed a short term funding extension for the highway trust fund on Tuesday.

It would take money from other parts of the budget to keep the highway trust fund solvent.

The bill needs to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the president to take effect.

The Senate has two weeks to pass a bill before heading into recess on august fourth.

The U.S. Transportation Department issued a letter to all 50 states, warning that if the highway trust fund goes insolvent, it will only be able to reimburse projects as money becomes available.


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