There has been a lot of discussion in the United States about the deteriorating conditions of our roads, highways and bridges. Most recently the collapse of the Skagit River Bridge in Washington State is yet another example of why we must renew our commitment to investing in our country's infrastructure. But, the transportation and infrastructure crisis extends well beyond the North American continent.
As governments worldwide face shrinking budgets and growing economic challenges, the International, Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) and our European counterpart, the European Association of Operators of Toll Road Infrastructures (ASECAP) forged a greater alliance last week by signing a Joint Tolling Declaration designed to support a wider application of tolling policies across our respective continents. Tolling is quickly becoming a powerful infrastructure funding tool not only here in the United States, but also in Europe.
Emanuela Stocchi, IBTTA's International Vice President, explains how both organizations are working together on promoting tolling as a viable funding alternative:
The two organizations have been coordinating efforts since signing a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation in 2004. The joint declaration on tolling is seen as a tool to strengthen this cooperation and to point out a simple truth that applies equally in the United States and Europe: Tolling is a leading tool in the funding toolbox to finance, build, maintain, and improve safe, smart, reliable highway infrastructure for the benefit of road users and other citizens.
On May 27, 2013, presidents of both IBTTA and ASECAP signed the Joint Tolling Declaration during ASECAP's 41st Annual Study and Information Days in Dubrovnik, Croatia. It calls for an increase in advocacy and application of tolling policies to support infrastructure funding throughout the globe. In its preamble, it states:
... ASECAP and IBTTA think that a wider application of tolling policies, based on the user pays principle, will be highly beneficial for governments -- especially those that face severe economic pressure and may not have enough funds either to support new infrastructure or improve existing ones -- and the users, who can immediately see the benefits they receive for the fees they pay on the road infrastructure they use.
Based on these beliefs and our strong commitment to implement our Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation, we are proud to present this Joint Tolling Declaration and to demonstrate the reasons why tolling supports mobility and economic growth in North America and in Europe, as well as in other regions of the world.
In the U.S., there are more than 5,000 miles of toll roads in 35 states, while there are nearly 46,000 kilometres of a network of roads represented by ASECAP members in 173 companies across Europe. Tolling is a growing phenomenon that is helping to solve a growing transportation crisis around the globe. Our new U.S. and Europe Tolling Brief outlines the network of toll roads in the U.S. and Europe and provides further evidence of the widespread global use of tolling as a source of infrastructure funding.
IBTTA's strong alliance with ASECAP will further help educate the public, policymakers and the media about the excellent benefits tolling brings to cash-strapped government's who want to ease congestion, promote cost-effectiveness and encourage safety.