An ambitious study to charge motorists by the mile, which hopes to address decreasing gas tax revenue for both states and the federal government, will begin in North Carolina's Research Triangle.
"As part of a $16.5 million nationwide study over the next two years, 450 Research Triangle drivers in NC will help road-test a new way to pay for transportation -- by the mile, not by the gallon."
The University of Iowa Public Policy Center will oversee the Road User Charge Study in North Carolina and five other states.
"The mileage fee idea is fueled by the same forces that are pushing North Carolina into the business of collecting tolls from expressway drivers. North Carolina and 14 other states joined Congress in commissioning the Iowa study to weigh collecting user fees for city streets and rural highways as well."
The study "will experiment with rates that would generate about the same revenue now produced from the gas tax. Congress and state legislatures would decide whether to set fees higher or lower."
"The federal Highway Trust Fund relies mostly on gas-tax money to pay for state road construction. The fund is expected to drop from an $8.1 billion surplus this year to a $1.7 billion deficit by 2009."
"The Iowa researchers will outfit volunteers' cars with computers and satellite gear to record where and how far they drive. It will test the hardware, the billing system and the popular support that would be needed for a shift to mileage fees. The on-board computer will know which state the car is traveling in, and it will calculate the mileage fees payable to each state at the end of the month."
"The study will also test options to vary the fee per mile for different vehicles and different times of day. Some possibilities:
* Higher fees for heavy trucks to reflect their share of pavement wear and tear.
* A rush-hour premium to cover the cost of freeway congestion.
* Lower fees to encourage more alternative-fuel and low-emission cars."
Thanks to pat carstensen