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Highways


A.  Responsibility of the Federal Government

The federal government should continue to assume primary responsibility for financing, construction, and reconstruction of the National Highway System.  Full federal-aid funding should be continued as authorized.  After completion of the Interstate System, the National Highway System, consisting of the Interstate System, and important principal arterial highways, which are major connectors, must become the principal federal aid system.  This system should be funded at a level to meet essential future needs of this system and at a higher federal aid-matching ratio than any other federal aid highways.

The National Highway System should be designated in its entirety for vehicles of the weight and length authorized by the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (STAA) and more productive combinations or trailer lengths subsequently approved by the states. Fund distribution should be by formula and not on a "cost-to-complete" basis.

Federal highway funds for lesser rural and urban connector routes and for major bridges on those routes should be continued.  Increased federal highway spending should be sought for lower system routes.  States should be allowed to add or delete miles on the National Highway System as trade and usage patterns change.

Federal highway programs to promote social and environmental goals should be supported by federal general fund revenues. Federal highway funds should be allocated to the states on the basis of specific, verifiable highway requirements and should be used only for highway safety and research and the construction, reconstruction, and rebuilding of roads and bridges on the National Highway System and on other federal aid highways providing connecting service.  Federal highway funds must not be used for non-highway purposes.

Increased federal funding is needed for research and development designed to provide more economical and improved pavements, increase equipment productivity, study intelligent vehicle/highway systems, improve traffic flow, and relieve congestion to enhance highway efficiency, safety, and return on investment.

B.  Responsibility of State & Local Governments

The states and local units of government should be accountable primarily responsible for the financing, program development and administration, and construction and maintenance of bridges, highways, roads, and streets within their territorial limits.

At a minimum, road and bridge design should safely and efficiently accommodate all current and anticipated future vehicle types in North America.  States should implement proven technologies in a timely and efficient manner and should be partners in the testing of innovative technologies.  States and local governments, in cooperation and partnership with the trucking industry and other road users, should form motor carrier and/or freight advisory groups to support the infrastructure planning process and the need to consider the efficient movement of freight with that process and develop incident management programs for urban areas.

To obtain maximum benefit from both state and federal highway user taxes, states should dedicate user revenues to the funding of highway maintenance and improvements with an appropriate level of funding for planning and research.  States should encourage assistance from highway beneficiaries, such as developers and other non-toll private sector sources, to augment user revenues where feasible.

In recognition of the growing interdependence and connectivity among states, state governments should be responsible for devising practical multi-state regional solutions to highway mobility problems in a spirit of cooperation with other states.  Highway safety and productivity can be enhanced by eliminating unnecessary institutional barriers, inconsistencies, and preferences among states that constrain mobility and interstate commerce.  Freedom of movement for all vehicles, regardless of state of registration or business incorporation, is essential to the nation's continued prosperity, with due consideration to the evolving opportunities under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Amended March 1, 2008

Highway Grandfather Clause


The 1956 Highway Act provided that weights legally in excess of the Federal axle and gross weight limits on July 1, 1956 in any state were "grandfathered." Similarly, the 1974 Highway Act provided that the bridge formula applied only to weights in excess of those legal in any state on January 5, 1975.

The Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 changed this section to provide that the states shall determine "grandfathered" weight limits. The STAA established trailer length regulations and provided that trailer lengths in any states which exceeded the Federal length limits were "grandfathered." State and Federal DOT actions to restrict or roll back "grandfathered" weight or length limits are opposed.

Privatization of Rest Stops


TCA policy is to urge the states and the federal government to use the increased federal aid funding in order to expand the size and number of selected rest areas around the country, along with the number of hours which truck drivers may use rest areas.

Size & Weight


The performance of the nation's economy in increasingly competitive international markets depends in large measure upon an effective and efficient transportation system.  To achieve efficiency, the trucking industry must be able to operate its most productive equipment to serve the facilities of shippers and receivers throughout the nation.

As the nation's premier mover of freight, the American trucking industry has long recommended reasonable size and weight standards consistent with highway capability and the need for efficient, intelligent, and productive use of our country's vital resources.

It is essential that all vehicle types approved by the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 and longer vehicles grandfathered or subsequently approved be permitted to operate on a system of Highways of National Significance.  In order to achieve necessary productivity, the trucking industry must be allowed access to the points of loading and unloading from the system of Highways of National Significance.  States, counties, and cities cannot be allowed to thwart national productivity through ordinances or regulations restricting or banning trucks without evidence of specific safety problems.

TCA supports a policy of no increase in truck weight, however as an association, we will continue to examine components of increasing productivity as they arise.  – Amended March 6, 2016

TCA supports allowing states to permit longer combination vehicles.  Such operations should be allowed under divisible load permits which specify adequate driver, vehicle, and highway controls.  Longer combination vehicle gross weight should be limited by the federal bridge formula or a modified bridge formula subsequently adopted.

TCA supports standardizing 53-foot trailer length. While national trailer uniformity is federally protected for 48’ trailers, 53’ trailers have become the industry standard. Federal law should be brought up to modern standards to ensure the continued protection of the flow of interstate commerce by changing minimum trailer length limits to 53’. In addition, TCA supports capping trailer length at 53’ except in states where longer trailers are currently allowed.

Amended March 8, 2009

Amended October 16, 2010

Amended October 15. 2011
Amended March 6, 2016

Tolls


TCA supports the objective of a toll-free National Highway System.  Fuel taxes and other existing highway user fees are efficient, effective, and commonly accepted methods for collecting revenues for the maintenance and expansion of highways.  If toll financing is determined to be inevitable, TCA will continue to oppose tolling and will advocate that the toll plan should incorporate the following attributes:

  • Toll collections should be limited to and fully cover only the debt-service related costs of construction, reconstruction, and maintaining the associated toll facility.

  • If tolls are imposed on an existing Interstate Highway, an amount of federal-aid highway revenue equivalent to the toll revenues collected on the highway should be withheld from the state where the toll revenue is collected and redistributed annually to the remainder of the states.

  • Toll financing should only be used for construction of new highways; upgrading of existing non-Interstate roads to highways with significantly greater capacity and safety benefits; construction of new lanes on existing highways, provided the existing lanes remain toll-free and open to all vehicles that were allowed to use the highway prior to the capacity expansion; or conversion of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.

  • Toll collections should not be used for the extension of bonded indebtedness or for the creation of new indebtedness for other facilities.

  • Truck size and weight limits allowed on toll facilities should be grandfathered.

  • The use of toll roads should be voluntary. Trucks should not be restricted from operating on non-toll highways that could serve as alternative routes to toll roads.

  • The impacts on toll facility revenues should not be a factor when decisions are made with regard to improvements to alternative routes.

  • As quasi-private enterprises, toll facilities should be allowed to offer productivity improvements to attract commercial vehicle customers.

  • The payment of all highway user taxes, in addition to tolls on the toll highways, constitutes double payment for the use of these facilities.  State highway user taxes should be eliminated on toll facilities.

  • Programs designed to reduce congestion through assessment of fees for use of roads during peak travel periods attempt to discourage travel rather than increase mobility.  Weigh scale by-pass fees and congestion pricing are not acceptable alternatives to highway improvements that provide new capacity or increase productivity.

  • TCA strongly opposes the lease or sale of toll roads, bridges, or tunnels to private parties for the purpose of funding highway infrastructure.  If such a facility is sold or leased to private investors, TCA recommends the following:
  • Proceeds derived by the government from the sale or lease of a toll facility should be used exclusively for highway investments on un-tolled facilities.  Facility customers should not be required to subsidize unrelated government functions.

  • Toll rates should be set at a level that covers only the costs of construction, reconstruction, maintenance, and operation of the associated toll facility, plus a reasonable return on investment and debt service costs.  Any differences in toll rates among vehicle classes should be reasonable.

  • Lessees should provide adequate facilities for the trucking industry, including access to food, fuel, and safe parking accommodations for long-term rest.

  • A rebate of federal and state fuel taxes for users of the facility.

  • A prohibition on the private party imposing its own restrictions or special fees on vehicle configurations (e.g. oversize/over weight vehicles) and commodities (e.g. hazardous materials).  It is anticipated that improved truck productivity will be part of any serious discussion of privatization benefits.  Therefore, increases in vehicle size and weight limits above that allowed under applicable federal or state law is not opposed.

  • A sinking fund to ensure that sufficient revenues are available for continued maintenance and operation of the facility.

  • Non-compete clauses that prevent improvements to competing highways should not be included as part of a lease or sale agreement.

  • Open Road Tolling (ORT) technology that allows motorists to travel at highway speeds must be adopted, and transponder technology must be compatible with technology used on other Interstate toll roads.

  • Performance specifications which ensure that the facility is operated and maintained adequately, provides a level of safety that is comparable to similar facilities, and provides for acceptable traffic flows.

  • A clause that allows the responsible public agency to end the agreement if the public agency believes that continuing the agreement is not in the public’s best interest.  In addition, a process should be established for amending the agreement.  An oversight committee should be established by the responsible public agency to monitor the facility and make recommendations to the agency as to whether the agreement should be amended or terminated.  This committee should include representatives of all major stakeholders, including the trucking industry.

Amended March 1, 2008


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