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Are Freight User Fees an Option?

artbaJuly 25, 2011 ARTBA President Peter Ruane, in an op-ed that appeared in the July 25th edition of  Roll Call, floated the idea that a solution for infrastructure funding could include the implementation of a new "federal freight user fee" to help finance transportation investments and leverage private capital, particularly for the "critical commerce corridors" that the nation so desperately needs to compete. The idea stems from a Pricewaterhouse Coopers proposal that outlined a "highway transportation services tax" that is similar to the current federal excise levied on air cargo. "It deserves a good, hard look from every Member of Congress," Ruane said. "Virtually everything that Americans wear, eat and use every day comes to them via the surface transportation system. Strengthening and improving this system will not only help alleviate the national unemployment emergency by creating jobs but also lead to expanded long-term economic productivity and international competitiveness — both outcomes essential to restoring balance to the federal budget." At this juncture, I'm guessing that even the trucking industry, which would bear the brunt of the user fee, would be on-board to get something, anything moving forward.