As part of its effort to explore replacing the current fuel tax with a mileage-based user fee or "MBUF" to generate highway funding the I-95 Corridor Coalition, with the Delaware Department of Transportation as the lead, is launching a three month pilot study starting this month.
Phase 1 of the study runs from May 1 until the end of July and involves over 120 participants, including state DOT officials, legislators, members of the media, and other stakeholders in multiple states.
Phase 2 of the study will include a multi-state truck pilot in partnership with a private company, the coalition said, to assess the "synergy between" current reporting requirements on commercial vehicles and MBUF collection. Phase 2 is currently scheduled to begin in 2019, the group noted.
The $3.1 million worth of funding for this multi-year, two-phase study comes from the USDOT's Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives or "STSFA" program, the coalition noted, adding that Congress has authorized up to $95 million in federal grants over a five-year period to explore "alternative systems" of transportation funding.
"The fundamental question we are beginning to address is, as fuel tax revenue declines in the future due to improving efficiency and the growing use of alternative fuel vehicles, how will we pay to maintain and build infrastructure?" noted Jennifer Cohan, Secretary of DelDOT, in a statement. "This study is just a first step of many and will help us answer questions about mileage-based user fees and whether this is an alternative worth pursuing further."
"The majority of the MBUF studies have happened in western states, and this study brings the East Coast perspective and its unique challenges, such as managing out-of-state mileage and synergies with toll authorities," added Patricia Hendren, the I-95 Corridor Coalition's executive director. "While neutral regarding MBUF as the ultimate solution for transportation funding, we want to make sure that the voices of citizens along the I-95 corridor are part of the national discussion."
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