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Road Pricing: Tolling Programs

Federal Tolling Programs

Section 129 General Tolling Program

Section 129 provides authority for tolling Federal-aid highways in conjunction with new construction or other improvements to those highways. The passage of MAP-21 made significant changes to the federal Section 129 Tolling Program including tolling eligibilities and agreement requirements. These changes have relaxed the prior, general prohibition on the imposition of tolls on federal-aid highways and formalized provisions previously available through pilot programs. Public agencies may impose new tolls on federal-aid highways in the following cases:

  • Initial construction of a new highway, bridge, or tunnel
  • Initial construction of new lanes on highways, bridges, and tunnels (including Interstates), as long as the number of toll-free lanes is not reduced
  • Reconstruction or replacement of a bridge or tunnel
  • Reconstruction of a highway (other than an Interstate)
  • Reconstruction, restoration, or rehabilitation of an Interstate highway, as long as the number of toll-free lanes is not reduced

Toll Agreements

Prior to October 1, 2012, public authorities were required to execute a tolling agreement with FHWA to impose tolls on a federal-aid highway, but this requirement is no longer required. For toll facilities that have executed Section 129 tolling agreements prior to October 1, 2012, the terms of those agreements will continue in force.

Although tolling agreements are no longer required under the mainstream tolling programs, State departments of transportation and other public agencies responsible for toll facilities may wish to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with their FHWA Division Offices, particularly in light of the new requirements for audits and the potential consequences of noncompliance (including the discontinuation of toll collection). As shown in this Sample MOU Template, suggested elements of the MOU could include establishing the eligibility for tolling a Federal-aid highway facility under Section 129 and outlining how the statutory requirements regarding the use of toll revenues, audits, and other Federal requirements will be met.

Tolling Revenue and Compliance Audits

Although the requirement for upfront tolling agreements has been removed, MAP-21 largely continues the restrictions on the use of toll revenues that were in place previously. MAP-21 also imposes a new requirement for annual audits to ensure compliance with these limitations. These annual audits must be transmitted to USDOT. If the Secretary concludes that the public authority with responsibility for the toll facility is not in compliance with the restrictions, the Secretary may require that toll collection on the facility be discontinued until an agreement is reached to achieve compliance. Additional guidance will be developed in the future regarding use of toll revenue and compliance.

Two Prior Toll Pilot Programs Mainstreamed

The changes to Section 129(a) enacted in MAP-21 have mainstreamed two prior toll pilot programs. Allowing tolling on newly constructed lades added to existing non-tolled Interstate highways mainstreams the Express Lanes Demonstration Program. Allowing tolling for the initial construction of highways, bridges and tunnels on the Interstate system mainstreams the Interstate system Construction Toll Pilot Program.

Section 129 General Toll Program Q and A

This comprehensive document provides answers to twenty commonly asked questions about the Section 129 General Toll Program, including policy changes introduced by MAP-21.

For more information on the Section 129 General Tolling Program, please contact:

Darren Timothy, Ph.D.
FHWA Office of Innovative Program Delivery
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20590
202-366-4051
darren.timothy@dot.gov

Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
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