Truckers, motorists form coalition opposing private highways

WASHINGTON, D.C. — American truckers and other road users are banding together in opposition of the Bush Administration’s goal to increase the number of private highways and toll interstates in the U.S.

The American Trucking Associations, along with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the American Automobile Association, the American Highway Users Alliance, and the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, have announced the formation of a coalition to combat the growing trend toward the privatization or leasing of existing toll facilities to private investors.

Known as “Americans for a Strong National Highway Network,” the coalition will “advance the rights of American motorists … to hold government accountable for ensuring financing is transparent, motivated by public good and dedicated to transportation purposes.”

“The sale or lease of existing toll facilities generates revenue at great expense to taxpayers and the trucking industry and carries potential negative impacts on highway safety, security and the motoring public,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “We must consider the long-term impact privatization will have on our nation’s transportation system and explore all available financing options to ensure that the government is motivated by public good and transportation purposes.”

Both ATA and OOIDA, which represents hundreds of thousands of independent owner-operators in the U.S. and Canada, strongly oppose the lease or sale of existing toll roads, bridges or tunnels to private parties and has called upon the government to abandon these financing techniques.

The trucking industry supports the objective of a toll-free national highway system where funds to finance highway improvements primarily come from highway user fees, such as the fuel tax.

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