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Trade group: Feds must create more tolls, charge mileage fees for road costs

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Highway travel
Highway travel

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - A Milwaukee trade group says Congress is so reluctant to raise gas taxes, that the federal government may have no choice but to create more toll roads – and put monitoring devices on all vehicles to determine how much they owe.

Dennis Slater of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers floated the idea during a conference call with reporters.

The group is looking at several ideas – including toll highways in which fees are charged electronically, similar to Illinois’ “I-Pass” system.

Also, Slater mentioned the idea of charging motorists for each mile they drive. He said the technology is available now – but it won’t happen any time soon, because people fear that they’ll lose their privacy once the government starts tracking their movements.

Slater said it would take time for motorists to, “get comfortable” with being monitored – but officials would have to set limits so the devices would only record what’s needed to charge the tolls.

Congress has not raised the federal gas tax in 20 years. Since then, people have been paying less in gas taxes due to the recession and more fuel-efficient vehicles, while the cost of road repairs has gone up.

A Wisconsin transportation task force also recommended a monitoring system to charge drivers for each mile they travel – in addition to a host of gas tax and transportation fee increases.

But Majority Republicans have objected to all of them, and none are in the proposed new state budget.

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