Getting There: Targeting truckers wrong way to address Connecticut traffic woes

From New Haven Register.

“Why don’t we just ban all trucks from our interstate highways in rush hour?”

A mayor of a small Fairfield County town recently asked me this question. He’s a smart guy who obviously had given a lot of thought to resolving our traffic woes and believed he had the answer to the transportation crisis.

He wasn’t in favor of tolls but liked them as a traffic mitigation tool. Charging truck drivers more during rush hour would incentivize them to travel during other times of the day. He was just taking the idea a step further: ban them completely at certain hours.

I told him that’s probably illegal. This is an interstate, federal highway built to carry trucks. It would be a better idea to suggest merchants only accept deliveries at, say, 3 a.m. instead of 9 to 5, which is more convenient for store owners.

But the truck-haters are not satisfied. Any number of candidates are calling for truck-only tolls, pointing to Rhode Island recently launching this type of system. It’s been a huge success, raking in $625,000 in its first month of operation.

But it’s also attracted lawsuits, because it is illegal — just like the mayor’s idea. Tolling only big-rigs is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s “Commerce Clause.” The truckers and big-box stores say it’s not fair to toll them and not charge drivers of cars and small trucks. I’m no lawyer, but I think they’re right.

Trucks are not the problem. Cars are the real issue.

See the full article by Jim Cameron in New Haven Register online.