12/21/2007Congress Imposes Moratorium on Texas Toll Roads
The US House and Senate adopt language banning the imposition of tolls on existing federal highways in Texas.
The president is expected to sign into law a one-year ban on adding tolls on existing highways in Texas as part of a massive federal spending bill. US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) claimed victory as her moratorium provision was included in the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations legislation adopted by the House and Senate earlier this week.
"Today we can say with certainty that Texas taxpayers are protected from paying twice for a federal highway," Hutchison said in a statement. "I will continue working with my colleagues to push for a permanent prohibition of tolling existing federal highways."
Hutchison's measure, supported by a bipartisan group of members from the Texas congressional delegation, was designed to thwart an attempt by the Texas Department of Transportation to add tolls to Interstates 10, 27 and 35, routes that are currently free of any tolls.
"None of the funds made available by this Act shall be used to consider or approve an application to permit the imposition or collection of any toll on any portion of a Federal highway facility in the State of Texas," the provision stated.
The legislative language does not ban using tolls to fund newly constructed highways or new lanes. It also only applies to interstate highways, US highways or bridges constructed using federal funds.
Article Excerpt:FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill:
Sec 197. Prohibition on Imposition and Collection of Tolls on Certain Highways Constructed Using Federal Funds.
In This section:
(1) Federal Highway Facility --
(A) In general -- The term "Federal Highway Facility" means --
(i) any highway, bridge, or tunnel on the Interstate System that is constructed using Federal funds; or
(ii) any United States highway.
(B) Exclusion -- The term "Federal highway facility" does not include any right-of-way for any highway, bridge, or tunnel described in subparagraph (A).
(2) Tolling provision. The term "tolling provision" means section 1216(b) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (23 U.S.C. 129 note; 112 Stat. 212);
(b) Prohibition --
(1) In general. None of the funds made available by this Act shall be used to consider or approve an application to permit the imposition or collection of any toll on any portion of a Federal highway facility in the State of Texas --
(A)(i) that is in existence on the date of the enactment of this Act; and
(ii) on which no toll is imposed or collected under a tolling provision on that date of enactment; or
(B) that would result in the Federal highway facility having fewer non-toll lanes than before the date on which the toll was first imposed or collected.
(2) Exemption. Paragraph (1) shall not apply to the imposition or collection of a toll on a Federal highway facility --
(A) on which a toll is imposed or collected under a tolling provision on the date of enactment of this Act; or
(B) that is constructed, under construction, or the subject of an application for construction submitted to the Secretary, after the date of enactment of this Act.
(c) State Buy-Back. None of the funds made available by this Act shall be used to impose or collect a toll on a Federal highway facility in the State of Texas that is purchased by the State of Texas on or after the date of enactment of this Act.