The Iowa Department of Transportation released a report to the legislature last week that says the shortage in the funding needed to repair and build roads has grown from 200 to 267-million dollars in the last two years. The report gives lawmakers several alternatives for making up some of the funding. D.O.T. planner Stu Anderson says one of the least likely alternatives is creating toll roads.
Anderson says while tolls would generate revenue from out-of-state drivers, they don’t feel it’s a viable option for Iowa. Anderson says the cost of implementing a toll system would make it tough to work in Iowa. Anderson says there’s a "real high" administrative cost and capital cost to install the toll booths and collect tolls, and the ongoing cost of collecting the tolls.
He says Iowa doesn’t have the high volume roads that would make tolling a viable option. "Plus we have a lot of good parallel routes in the state that we would expect to see traffic move from one facility to another to avoid tolling," Anderson says. Another option for raising road funds takes a whole new approach, but is still being studied.
Anderson says one method that’s being studied by the University of Iowa, but is not ready for use yet, is a per-mile tax on drivers that could be used to generate fees from those who drive on state roads. Anderson says the per-mile system would become more important as alternative fuel vehicles become more prevalent and the taxes paid for gasoline and diesel drop as the demand for those fuels drop.