U.S. Highway Trust Fund running out

Global Business

The Highway Trust Fund, which helps pay for the construction and repair of America’s Interstate Highways is running out. The Congressional Budget Office predicts the fund will be depleted by the end of August.

It needs to raise revenue quickly and one idea proposed by the White House is to allow states to put up tolls on existing roads. CCTV’s Karina Huber has more.

U.S. Highway Trust Fund running out

U.S. Highway Trust Fund running out

The Highway Trust Fund, which helps pay for the construction and repair of America's Interstate Highways is running out. The Congressional Budget Office predicts the fund will be depleted by the end of August. It needs to raise revenue quickly and one idea proposed by the White House is to allow states to put up tolls on existing roads. CCTV’s Karina Huber has more.

America is synonymous with the automobile. U.S. drivers log an average 37 miles per day. And for every gallon of gas guzzled 18.4 cents goes to the Highway Trust Fund.

But revenue from gas taxes has fallen as cars have become more fuel-efficient. That leaves America with a gaping hole in its infrastructure budget.

Carl Berkowitz, Transportation Consultant, said: “A trillion dollars is needed to bring our roadway system up to speed in the United States. There are 65,000 bridges that are in dire need of repair.”

Lawmakers are scrambling to find ways to pay for all those repairs and one idea is to get rid of a decades old ban on tolls on interstate highways.

Transportation consultant Carl Berkowitz is skeptical Americans would go for the idea.

Carl Berkowitz, Transportation Consultant, said: “I think it works best when you want to build a new road that doesn’t exist – because if wasn’t for the tolls it wouldn’t be built in the first place.”

Essentially what Obama is proposing is that drivers pay for something they haven’t had to pay for up until now. The reaction to the idea is mixed.

Customer at gas station told CCTV reporter: “As long as they fix the roads and actually give you roads that aren’t going to tear up your tires then you know go for it but show us where our money is going before you keep taking it.” Some also said: “Anything that gets people using public transportation and stops them from driving cars is actually good.”

In China tolls are a big disincentive to drive. For many types of cars the tolls are more expensive than the gas consumed for a trip. So many Chinese opt for public transportation instead.

Could the same thing happen in America, the land of the automobile? Berkowitz suspects otherwise.

Carl Berkowitz, Transportation Consultant, said: “What government people are afraid of is that people will be turning away from the toll roads and go to the local roads to save the tolls so they’ll shift the congestion from the toll road to the local roads so the local communities will suffer from the shift of traffic.”

Most experts seem unconvinced the toll proposal will fly but an increase in gas taxes won’t likely play well politically either. What will be given the green light is anyone’s guess but a solution to the budget problems needs to be agreed upon soon. They only have two months before the fund runs on empty.