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Innovative Alternatives to the Gas Tax for Funding Transportation Programs

Recorded on June 4, 2003

Location:
The Heritage Foundation's Van Andel Center

In April 2003, Representatives Mark Kennedy (R-MN) and Adam Smith (D-WA), introduced the Freeing Alternatives for Speedy Transportation (FAST) Act (H.R. 1767) in the House of Representatives. In May, Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) will introduce the same legislation in the Senate. By allowing states to collect fees and tolls on new lane additions to the interstate, the FAST Act has the potential of adding tens of billions of dollars of new investment to our highway system without raising taxes. If enacted into law, the FAST Act would be one of the most significant improvements in the Federal Highway program since it was created in 1956.

Specifically, the FAST Act would allow public or private entities to construct additional lanes on the interstate system to reduce traffic congestion, and to finance the cost of the expansion by collecting fees and tolls. Among the bill's other features, the FAST Act 1) requires states to invest fee revenue in road improvements, 2) ends the fees/tolls when the cost of improvements are paid off, 3) allows states to include high speed toll express lanes for motorist willing to pay the fee, 4) requires FAST-related fees to be collected electronically, and 5) encourages private sector investors and builders to partner with government to finance and operate the new lanes.

Panelists will discuss implications of FAST Act and other innovative highway reforms. Audience will have ample opportunity for Q and A, and will have an opportunity to talk informally to panelists during the buffet luncheon that follows.