Truck Drivers Oppose I-80 Tolling | | Big Horn Radio Network | Wyoming

Truck Drivers Oppose I-80 Tolling

Written by on January 16, 2020

One group has voiced their opposition to the tolling of I-80.

In response to reports the Wyoming Legislature – specifically the Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee – has introduced legislation allowing for tolling on I-80, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has written a letter against the proposition. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest trade association representing the views of small-business truckers and professional drivers with more than 160,000 members nationwide. 545 reside in Wyoming and thousands more regularly operate on Wyoming highways.

Their letter reads as follows:

Dear Members of the Wyoming Transportation, Highways & Military Affairs Committee:
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) opposes SF0006. This
legislation would authorize a tolling program on I-80 in Wyoming.
OOIDA is the largest trade association representing the views of small-business truckers and
professional drivers. We have more than 160,000 members nationwide, including 545 who
reside in Wyoming and thousands more who regularly operate on Wyoming highways.
To be clear, OOIDA fundamentally opposes toll roads. However, toll roads are more egregious
when they are proposed for existing highway capacity. It is our understanding that is precisely
what SF0006 would authorize for I-80.
Even if the state legislature passes this bill, federal approval is necessary. It should be noted that
the trucking industry – and numerous other entities that would be impacted by this – would
vigorously oppose this effort in Washington, DC. In short, while we understand Wyoming is
trying to secure additional revenue for roads and bridges, toll roads are not a practical solution.
Further, if the legislature is planning to target out-of-state trucks in its tolling scheme, this would
potentially run afoul of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Meaning, that is the legal
argument OOIDA would use as the foundation for a lawsuit against the state.
We understand Wyoming’s dilemma – at least in part. Wyoming is a geographically large state
with thousands of miles of interstate highways and state highways, yet has a population of less
than 600,000 people. It must be extremely difficult to build and maintain a vast network of roads
and bridges with the nation’s smallest tax base.
However, we would remind you that every trucker pays a tax for every mile they operate on
Wyoming highways through the International Fuel Tax Agreement and International Registration
Plan, regardless of where they buy fuel or where they live. This is in addition to numerous other
truck-specific taxes, such as the federal diesel tax, the federal heavy vehicle use tax, and the
federal excise tax on new trucks, trailers, and tires.
At 24 cents per gallon, Wyoming’s state fuel tax is among the lowest in the nation. A modest
increase in the state fuel tax is a more appropriate, cost-effective, and equitable option. This
could probably be done relatively quickly and it would not be subject to costly and prolonged
litigation.
We would also point out that the United States Congress has failed to adequately address our
surface transportation infrastructure needs. The federal gas and diesel tax rates haven’t been
increased in nearly 27 years and billions of dollars of gas and diesel taxes are diverted to nonhighway programs and projects each year. These are issues that every state lawmaker in
Wyoming should be raising with Wyoming’s Congressional delegation.
We appreciate your time and consideration of our views. Please contact Mike Matousek,
Manager of Government Affairs, at (816) 229-5791 ext. 1603 or mike_matousek@ooida.com
should you have any questions or if you would like to discuss this issue in more detail.

Respectfully,

Todd Spencer
President and CEO
OOIDA


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