Paying for heavier trucks

From today’s Strib: Editorial: Want heavier trucks? Fully fund highways. Again misanalyzing the issue they say

“Oberstar was right; raising the gas tax is doing the right thing. In the case of allowing heavier trucks on state roadways, it is also the necessary thing. “

Raising the gas tax on cars is not necessary to allow heavier trucks on the road. Raising the diesel tax on trucks might be somewhat more appropriate, after all, at least the class that benefits would be the class that pays. Even better would be charging trucks a weight-distance tax (pdf).

The cited issue brief (Legislative Committee Services Oregon Legislature, Dec. 2000) notes

“Most of the ongoing revenue collected by states and the federal government for highway construction and maintenance is from vehicle fuel taxes. To the extent that a vehicle’s fuel use correlates with its road use and wear, a fuel tax is an equitable way to “charge? for use of the road system. Variations in vehicle fuel economy, however, weaken the correlation between a fuel tax and road wear. This is true for all vehicles, but especially for heavy vehicles. An increase in truck weight that nearly doubles road wear may only increase fuel use by 10%. A weight-mile tax can be structured to more accurately assess for costs of wear.”

This of course would not be popular among truckers, who would love to get all the benefit for one-tenth the cost by having light vehicles pay per distance instead.