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US Transportation Secretary Talks Toll Roads

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood meets with Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood meets with Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert

By BJ Austin

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-873434.mp3

Dallas, TX – The U.S. Transportation Secretary says "toll roads" are a permanent part of America's commute now. KERA's BJ Austin says Secretary Ray LaHood outlined transportation challenges during a visit to North Texas.

At the annual North Texas Transportation Summit Secretary LaHood noted that people are driving less, and driving more fuel efficient cars. He says that means federal gasoline tax revenues are way down. He says the gas tax - which hasn't been raised in 15 years -- cannot possibly provide enough money to build or improve highways, bridges and transit.

LaHood: Tolling can be effective in terms of raising revenue to build additional lanes or to build additional capacity.

Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, on the House Transportation Committee, says the Secretary is right - even though a lot of people don't like toll roads.

Johnson: Every new highway in the country that's being built right now is a toll road. And that's of course for the purpose of paying for it. We're no different in Texas. We've got to use some of the same methods. And because of our population, we simply cannot walk away and ignore it.

Secretary LaHood says Congress will have to decide on raising the gasoline tax, as well as indexing it. That means the gas tax would see small increases each year to keep up with the rising cost of road construction.