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Louisiana’s trucking industry opposed to tolling of the Calcasieu bridge

Louisiana’s trucking industry opposed to tolling of the Calcasieu bridge

Louisiana’s trucking industry opposed to tolling of the Calcasieu bridge

Louisiana truckers are raising concerns following the state administration’s determination to toll the I-10 on the Calcasieu bridge. Current plans for the Calcasieu River bridge’s needed improvements would see the main source of funding come from a tolled Interstate 10. Truckers as well as members of Louisiana and the nation’s transportation industry depend on this corridor of  I-10. The interstate in Lake Charles is a vital part of the nation’s pathway for commerce not only out of the Port of Lake Charles but also in the connection of the supply chain throughout Texas, south Louisiana and the entirety of the Gulf Coast.

The Louisiana Motor Transport Association (LMTA) maintains that the trucking industry will bear the brunt of the toll’s impact in a time when truckers are already battling a crippling workforce shortage, unprecedented supply chain issues and rising fuel prices. “In these tight economic times with rising inflation and incredibly steep fuel prices, delivering goods is becoming more and more difficult,” said Pat Hay, owner of Hay Brothers in Lake Charles. “Throwing a toll on an existing bridge is a bad economic idea today, but also in the future.”

In an independent opinion poll contracted by the LMTA, results found that residents in the Lake Charles area, as well as greater Calcasieu and Jefferson Davis parishes do not like tolls. “What we found out about attitudes toward tolls is that it is not a party issue, an age issue, gender, or race issue - opposition to tolls remains steady and strong no matter the reason for the toll,” LMTA Executive Director Renee Amar shares. “Results also showed us that even though independent voters and chronic voters particularly hate tolls, more than 65 percent of independent voters oppose tolls.”

Amar adds, “we believe the state can afford to fund the bridge without a toll. In fact, there is a bill by Rep. Phil Tarver that seeks to do just that. With the state receiving more than $7 billion in federal funds through the infrastructure bill, and millions and millions that the state has received through pandemic funding, the state needs to determine their priorities and the Calcasieu bridge should be top of the list.”

Traditionally the LMTA has argued against tolling, citing that it is a double tax on not only the trucking industry but also citizens who already pay fuel taxes – which are supposed to fund the interstate system. Though tolls have been implemented for decades, their popularity has not increased, especially for the candidates that support them.

In 1998, Congress established the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program, which authorized three toll pilot projects, one in each of three states, to toll an interstate highway, bridge or tunnel. Due to significant public and political opposition, attempts at tolling under the program have been unsuccessful. LMTA’s recent poll also found that 50 percent of voters are less likely to support a pro-toll candidate.

“Tolling existing interstate lanes has never been successful, and the evidence demonstrates the negative effect of tolling on public safety, congestion, the environment, and the economy,” Amar explains. “We are all paying fuel taxes to fund the interstate system, now they want a toll on top of the tax, saddling the public with a double tax. The administration needs to do an about-face and fix the Calcasieu bridge without a toll.”

For more information on the Calcasieu River Bridge toll, information on tolling or to sign up for updates, visit www.tollsaredoubletax.com.

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About the Louisiana Motor Transport Association

Founded in 1939, LMTA represents trucking and related industry companies throughout the state and the nation. The association’s membership includes every type of motor carrier in Louisiana. The LMTA is the largest transportation trade organization in the State of Louisiana, as well as an officially recognized affiliate of the American Trucking Associations, Inc. in Washington, D.C. To learn more about the association, visit www.lmta.la.

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