Democrat Keith Allred says, “Car and pickup truck drivers have been subsidizing the heavy trucking industry.” He proposes cutting the gas tax for motorists, with heavy trucks paying a significantly larger share. Governor C.L. Otter, a Republican, replied, ““I can understand wanting to have the perfect solution in a campaign cycle, but the bottom line is the task force has not completed its work. We need to respect its bipartisan process.”
This preliminary report of the 2010 Idaho Highway Cost Allocation Study (HCAS) examined the equity of Idaho’s highway user tax structure to determine the fair share of costs that each road user class should pay through highway user taxes and fees for the construction, maintenance, operations, and related costs of highways, roads, and bridges in a state.
Key findings include:
When state and federal programs are combined, collections from automobiles now exceed cost responsibility by 47 percent, while payments from combination trucks now fall 33 percent short of cost responsibility.
At the state level, automobiles are overpaying by 26 percent while payments from combination trucks fall 27 percent short of cost responsibility.
Adjusted equity ratios in this study using the reduced GARVEE program scenario indicate that autos are overpaying by 38 percent while combination trucks are underpaying by 28 percent (federal and state programs combined). At the state level, automobiles are overpaying by 8 percent while combination trucks underpay by 14 percent.
Allred’s proposal would reduce the gas tax from 25 cents per gallon to 22 cents per gallon for motorists, saving them an estimated $19.2 million yearly. That amount would then be shifted onto drivers of heavy trucks weighing more than 60,000 pounds.
The Idaho Trucking Association disagrees with the idea of increasing the 25-cent diesel tax to $1.30 a gallon. Kathy Fowers, president of the association, said such an increase would be unfair. She said the association was willing to reach a compromise with a slight increase.v
Tunnel Inspections on the Way
If the U.S. Department of Transportation has its way, tunnels located on federal-aid highways will soon have inspection requirements much like bridges do.
The DOT’s Federal Highway Administration has proposed creating national tunnel inspection standards that would apply to about 350 structures nationwide. This stems from a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation following a fatal 2006 ceiling collapse in Boston’s Central Artery Tunnel.
The proposed standards include requirements for inspecting structural elements and mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and ventilation systems; qualifications for
inspectors; inspection frequencies; and a National Tunnel Inventory. Comments, due by Sept. 20, can be made at the www.regulations.gov website.
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