Under Title 23 of the United States Code (Highways), there is a general prohibition on the imposition of tolls on Federal-aid highways. However, Title 23 and other statutes have also carved out certain exceptions to this general prohibition through special programs and provisions. Some of these programs are intended to allow tolling to generate revenue to support highway construction activities, while others focus on the use of road pricing for congestion management.
Federal Highway Tolling Programs FACT SHEET
The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) makes a number of important changes to eligibilities for tolling authority under the Federal programs, as well as changes in how these programs are to be administered. These changes are described in two documents available on the FHWA MAP-21 Implementation website:
If Federal funds have been used or will be used on the highway, then the public authority responsible for the facility must qualify for toll authority under one of four Federal tolling programs. Two of these programs are codified in Title 23 of the United States Code, and are often referred to as the “mainstream” tolling programs, as there are no restrictions on the number of states or projects that can receive Federal tolling authority under these programs.
Section 129 provides authority for tolling Federal-aid highways in conjunction with new construction or other improvements to those highways.
This program allows states to charge tolls to vehicles that do not meet the established occupancy requirements to use an HOV lane if the state establishes a program that addresses the selection of vehicles allowed in such lanes and procedures for enforcing the restrictions.
Tolling authority for certain activities may be available through specially authorized pilot programs. Each of these programs has a limited number of slots that have been authorized by Congress.
This program, initially authorized in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) in 1991 as the Congestion Pricing Pilot Program, encourages implementation and evaluation of projects encompassing a variety of strategies to manage congestion on highways, including both tolling of highway facilities and other pricing strategies not involving tolls.
This program allows up to three existing Interstate highways to be tolled to fund needed reconstruction or rehabilitation on Interstate corridors that could not otherwise be adequately maintained or functionally improved without the collection of tolls.
Darren Timothy, Ph.D.
FHWA Office of Innovative Program Delivery
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
FHWA-HIN, Room E64-301
Washington, DC 20590-9898