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9/23/2008 8:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Congress May Link Change in Truck Size to Vehicle Miles Tax, DeFazio Says

By Sean McNally, Senior Reporter

This story appears in the Sept. 22 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

WASHINGTON — Congress may link any change in truck size- and-weight limits in upcoming highway legislation to a new commercial vehicle-miles-traveled tax, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Highway and Transit Subcommittee, said last week.

“I’m very interested in a vehicle-mileage fee,” DeFazio said Sept. 16 at the American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s annual “Public-Private Ventures in Transportation” meeting. “I just don’t see it moving very quickly with passenger vehicles in the next reauthorization, but we may be able to move a little bit more quickly with commercials.”

DeFazio said there were fewer issues, such as privacy and technological upgrades, with imposing a mileage fee on large trucks than on passenger cars and that would make the conversion simpler.

“There’s issues with individual autos. There are huge privacy issues that need to be dealt with and there’s the magnitude with what we’re dealing with,” he said.

“Commercial trucks are a finite resource. They’re already monitored and regulated very heavily. There are no privacy issues and many of the larger firms in any case have [Global Positioning System] devices and they are tracked already anyway. I think you could move there a lot more quickly than you could with cars,” he said.

Asked whether he would press such a shift in the next highway bill, due to be written next year, DeFazio said Congress would “be having discussions,” and indicated the move might have to be tied to increasing truck sizes and weights.

“If the trade-off is, we’re going to move in this direction with this new technology and fee system but, in return, we’re going to get some concessions in terms of weight and length and you’re going to get some new investments in terms of separated roadways,” he said, “I think it would certainly help facilitate the discussion.”

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