Opposing Federal Subsidies for Tolling Operators

April 20, 2020
Delivered via email

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                                     
United States House of Representatives 

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Mitch McConnell                               
Majority Leader                                                           
United States Senate

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
Minority Leader
United States Senate

Re: Opposing Federal Subsidies for Tolling Operators

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy and Leader Schumer:

During these unprecedented times, it is important to ensure that critical industries continue to function and job losses are minimized to the greatest extent possible. As America’s conveyor belt, our highway system, which trucks utilize to move 71% of the nation’s freight, must continue to be maintained and improved. The significant loss of revenue due to a precipitous drop-off in fuel purchases is straining transportation department budgets and has forced states to delay or cancel thousands of transportation projects. We join with state transportation departments and other groups to support additional federal funding to ensure that projects are not delayed or canceled. However, we are concerned that a request from the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Authority for $9.245 billion in federal subsidies for tolling authorities could jeopardize the allocation of funds for state departments of transportation.

Unlike transportation agencies, most tolling authorities have the ability to ride out this crisis. Privately-financed and publicly controlled toll facilities are funded through complex financial deals that have many factors contributing to their ability to endure short-term revenue drops, including overall liquidity levels, reserve accounts for debt service payments, existing cash on hand, and financial instruments securing their obligations to the public. Congress should focus on using public funds to protect the average American worker with direct investments in infrastructure rather than spending taxpayer dollars on sophisticated entities like project financiers.

Few toll roads have seen ratings changes to date, and any changes are largely related to the short-term outlook rather than a full ratings downgrade for most of these entities. Any changes mostly stemmed from existing issues with the toll authority’s debt ratios. We are only aware of one toll authority that has had a ratings downgrade to date due to existing financial issues that, while compounded by decreases in traffic resulting from the pandemic, largely was the result of the structure of its existing debt. Toll roads in better financial positions have had their ratings and outlooks affirmed despite decreases in traffic nationwide. In fact, rating agencies have affirmed that most toll agencies are likely to have sufficient liquidity to endure the short-term revenue decrease resulting from traffic reductions. Toll authorities have other non-financial options to weather the storm, such as reducing operations while traffic volumes are decreased.

Toll road agreements were entered into by sophisticated entities with more than adequate legal and financial resources to protect themselves and work with their public partners to find solutions to endure the pandemic. State and local governments are best positioned to determine needs to prevent defaults under existing concession agreements.

While we understand the concerns of toll road operators, it is clear that they are far better prepared to maintain normal operations at this time than transportation agencies are. Therefore, we request that you ensure that all federal aid to support the continuance of surface transportation capital and operations budgets is directed to transportation agencies, and not to toll facility operators.

We appreciate the opportunity to offer these comments.  We thank you for your consideration and look forward to working with you on any future legislation related to our surface transportation infrastructure.  Should you have any additional questions, please contact our Director of Membership & Operations, Charlie Kiefer, at charlie@tollfreeinterstates.com.


Alabama Trucking Association, Inc.

Alaska Trucking Association, Inc.

American Bakers Association

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Highway Users Alliance

American Motorcyclist Association

American Moving and Storage Association

American Trucking Associations

Arizona Trucking Association

Arkansas Trucking Association

Best Way Express

California Trucking Association

Citizen Outreach

Colorado Motor Carriers Association

Delaware Motor Transport Association, Inc.

Diamondback Systems

Duncan & Sons Lines, Inc.


Florida Trucking Association, Inc.

Georgia Motor Trucking Association, Inc.

Golden Strip Transfer

Hawaii Transportation Association

Idaho Trucking Association

Illinois Trucking Association, Inc.

Indiana Motor Truck Association, Inc.

International Foodservice Distributors Association

International Franchise Association

Iowa Motor Truck Association, Inc.

Kansas Motor Carriers Association

Kentucky Trucking Association

Leathers Enterprises

Louisiana Motor Transport Association, Inc.

Maine Motor Transport Association, Inc.

Maryland Motor Truck Association, Inc.

Massachusetts Motor Transp. Assoc., Inc.


Michigan Trucking Association, Inc.

Minnesota Trucking Association

Mississippi Trucking Association

Missouri Trucking Association

Motor Carriers of Montana

Motor Transport Association of Connecticut

Motorcycle Riders Foundation

National Association of Convenience Stores

National Council of Chain Restaurants

National Motorists Association

National Private Truck Council

National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC)

National Tank Truck Carriers

NATSO, representing America’s Travel Plazas and Truckstops

Nebraska Trucking Association

Nevada Trucking Association, Inc.

New Hampshire Motor Transport Assoc.

New Jersey Motor Truck Association

New Mexico Trucking Association

New York State Motor Truck Assn.

No Tolls I-95 Coalition, Inc.

North Carolina Trucking Association, Inc.

North Dakota Motor Carriers Association

Ohio Trucking Association

Oklahoma Trucking Association

Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc.

Oregon Trucking Associations, Inc.

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)

Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association

Rhode Island Trucking Association, Inc.

SIGMA: America’s Leading Fuel Marketers

South Carolina Trucking Assoc., Inc.

South Dakota Trucking Association

Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association

Tennessee Trucking Association

Texas Trucking Association

Truck Renting and Leasing Association

Truckload Carriers Association


Utah Trucking Association

Vermont Truck and Bus Association, Inc.

Virginia Trucking Association

Washington Trucking Associations

Werner Enterprises

West Virginia Trucking Association, Inc.

White Castle

Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association

Wyoming Trucking Association, Inc.

YRC Worldwide



To learn more about AFTI and join the Alliance please visit www.tollfreeinterstates.com. In addition to joining ATFI you can stay connected with the Alliance on Twitter at @No2Tolls and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TollFreeInterstates.