Recently, an article in the Washington Post bemoaned decreases in US toll road traffic and the negative effects that decrease is having on road repair revenues. The problem, in essence, is that COVID-19 era traffic levels are at a fraction of the previous year’s totals. As road revenue plummets – in the word according to legacy transportation analysts – road infrastructure projects that keep our labor force on the job and support the economy are in real jeopardy. The toll industry’s 2020 losses, which by International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) estimates will exceed $9 billion nationwide, are prompting public and private toll operators to tap their reserves, delay capital projects, and cut jobs. Politico reports that about 85% of the dollars coming from fuel taxes, or revenue to the US Highway Trust Fund, fell about 41% from $3.7 billion in 2019 to $2.2 billion in 2020. Moreover, since the federal government collects revenues from taxes paid by highway users – mostly from those levied on gasoline and diesel fuel – the emerging trend toward EV adoption poses even further dismay about the methods needed to maintain the sprawling network of US roads and bridges.


Carolyn Fortuna