Missouri truckers said they will fight renewed attempts by the state to toll Interstate 70 in order to pay for its rebuilding.
Gov. Jay Nixon recently asked the state Department of Transportation to prepare a report on tolling options for the heavily traveled freight route that runs 250 miles across the state between Kansas City and St. Louis.
“Once again, we’re afraid the trucking sector is being viewed as a rolling ATM so we will fight efforts at tolling on I-70 and every other road in Missouri,” said Tom Crawford, president of the Missouri Trucking Association.
Federal law prohibits tolling on existing interstate highways. More than a decade ago, though, Congress created a pilot program that would allow three states to toll an interstate running through it.
Missouri was given the green light to submit tolling plans for I-70, while Virginia and North Carolina were told they could submit plans for I-95.
That’s as far as the federal pilot program has advanced, however, because legislators in all three states, faced with public opposition to tolling, have blocked their states from proceeding.
Missouri has been trying for years to find a way to finance the rebuilding of I-70, which needs maintenance and widening, Crawford said.
“It is very congested and getting worse,” he added.
A ballot measure to raise the state sales tax to help pay for improvements was backed by the trucking industry but defeated by voters last summer.