Driving on certain roads is increasingly taking its toll on American motorists — and they’re OK with that. According to a new report by the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, a coalition representing toll-road owners and operators, use of pay-per-use roads has risen 14 percent since 2011 to 5.7 billion trips. Meanwhile, 84 percent of Americans believe tolls should be considered a “primary source of transportation revenue or on a project-by-project basis.”
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The study showed that more than 37 million electronic-tolling accounts now exist in the U.S., a 20 percent increase in five years as drivers embrace technology that eliminates the need to stop and pay an attendant or machine. That’s in addition to an increase in the amount of toll roads in the U.S., up 9 percent to nearly 6,000 miles since 2013. While convenience and time are likely major factors contributing to heightened use, the report also extolls toll roads’ safety virtues — namely a fatality rate roughly one-third that of all U.S. roads.
News of toll roads’ increasing popularity comes as legislators on Capitol Hill continue to debate an already-delayed decision on the federal highway bill to provide long-term funding for the maintenance and repair of the nation’s troubled transportation system. The IBTTA, meanwhile, boasts that $14 billion in capital investment has been made over the past three years by the top 40 U.S. toll facilities.
Of the 34 states that have toll roads, the top 10 by length in miles are:
1. Oklahoma, 605 miles
2. Florida, 594
3. New York, 570
4. Pennsylvania, 554
5. New Jersey, 321
6. Illinois, 286
7. Ohio, 241
8. Kansas, 236
9. Indiana, 157
10. Maryland, 146