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Your Opinion: I-70 tolls are wrong approach

by Harold Horstmann, Lohman | January 11, 2015 at 1:40 p.m. | Updated January 11, 2015 at 1:40 p.m.

Dear Editor:

I'm writing to comment on the Jan. 2 article "Double-digit tolls could fund I-70 repairs."

The idea of tolls on I-70 is just another way politicians can hit taxpayers with another new tax that can be raised at their discretion by regulatory fiat. We already have taxes on fuel and licenses that can and should be adjusted to accommodate changes in all highway infrastructure usage. To put a toll on I-70 would unfairly punish those who need to use I-70 for commutes to work and to hospitals while in-effect subsidizing truckers who are the primary reason I-70 has deteriorated and is in need of congestion relief.

If politicians would do the right thing and fairly tax all road users in proportion to their actual affect on road maintenance and construction cost, it would solve all road infrastructure problems. I refer you to the USA Today Sept. 10, 2007 article "Overweight trucks damage infrastructure." ( ). A quote from the article: "The weight limit for nearly all interstate highways is 40 tons. According to a government study, one 40-ton truck does as much damage to the road as 9,600 cars." Who on earth would consider any toll on I-70 for an automobile based on this information? I would guess only politicians who are concerned about contributions from the teamsters union and/or truckers organizations for their re-election.

Consider this, according to ( Missouri's sales tax is only 17 cents for both gas and diesel and there are only seven states with lower gas and diesel sales taxes than Missouri. Based on the above study it is absurd that our sales tax is so low compared to other states plus the disparity between gas and diesel when diesel OTR trucks are the primary source of Missouri's most costly road infrastructure problems.

My suggestions: Expedite the completion of four lanes of U.S.50 limited access across Missouri as relief for congestion. Increase the sales tax for diesel such that all trucks using Missouri highways when buying fuel are paying for the damage they're inflicting on our roads. Review and increase fees as necessary for parity with the average of other states for overweight-load permits to assure fee structure is in line to cover damage risk to road and bridge infrastructure.

A solution to work toward for the future: more trains and fewer trucks.

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