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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is the Gas Tax Outdated?

Mark Sanborn is counselor at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and a New Hampshire native. He writes in this morning's Union Leader that the gas tax is no longer a viable way to pay for highways, and proposes a new approach:

There is another way. We must create a transportation network that applies the concepts of supply and demand, including the use of pricing or tolling. While tolling is not a new concept in the Granite State, pricing is. Dynamic pricing means charging a fee, based on demand, on high-use roads. "Double taxation" can be avoided by making it unnecessary to use gas taxes for maintenance of that road.

Public-private partnerships are another option being embraced by states facing funding shortfalls. This does not involve selling public assets, but rather leasing highways to private companies for a fee and allowing the companies to collect money from highway users. The company is able to operate the highway more efficiently, while the state can leverage the funds to pay for infrastructure improvements elsewhere.

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