Tolls are not the way to pay for our highways

Regarding the recent editorial "Drive to toll interstates welcome," lawmakers will face tough choices as they begin to work on legislation to pay for our nation’s highways. But tolling, with its exorbitant costs and inefficiencies, should not be the road taken.

State and federal fuel taxes cost the average American about $250 a year. On a per-mile basis, the fuel tax costs drivers 1.6 cents per mile. By comparison, drivers pay exorbitant sums per mile to drive our nation’s toll roads. For example, drivers traveling the Chicago Skyway get socked with a fee of 46 cents per mile.

For each dollar collected in tolls, 20 cents to 30 cents goes to administration, even with electronic tolling. Administering the federal motor fuel tax, by comparison, costs less than a penny per dollar. And under the president’s plan, some of the tolls paid by drivers will be diverted to unrelated projects, further diminishing the amount of funding directed to the interstate system and guaranteeing that tolls will continue to increase.

-- Jim Goetz, co-president, Goetz Companies, Portage