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The Economic Case for a National Per-Mile Driving Fee

It could generate more revenue than we know what to do with—not a bad problem to have.
relates to The Economic Case for a National Per-Mile Driving Fee
Matthew Fern / Flickr

The Highway Trust Fund that pays for America's roads narrowly avoided bankruptcy this summer, but it's already in trouble again. In August, after the latest budget patch was approved, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the fund would run out of money again—next year. At the current rate, the highway account will be $60 billion in the hole (and the transit account another $20 billion down) by 2020. Sure, we can count on additional emergency patches here or there, but this trajectory is the definition of an unsustainable one.

With that we turn to an exhaustive new menu of funding options presented by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), which evaluates a number of long-term possibilities primarily on revenue potential. The options include existing revenue mechanisms, like the troubled gas tax, updated for necessary rate increases. It also includes a whole bunch of options should Congress move to replace the current ones.