DALLAS – The Colorado Department of Transportation has begun recruiting participants for a study on replacing the state fuel tax with a mileage fee.
Through a new Web site, CDOT explains how the pilot study of so-called "road-usage charging" would work and how to apply to be a part of the study.
About 100 Colorado drivers will participate in the pilot study, which will begin before the end of this year and end in spring 2017. The research team will report its findings later in 2017.
Colorado is one of several states examining the viability of imposing a mileage fee to replace the fuel tax, which falls short of the funding needed to maintain and expand highways and bridges.
"Colorado's population is expected to nearly double by 2040 to 7.8 million residents, bringing more demands for mobility, and on our transportation infrastructure," said CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt. "As the state's transportation funding gap under the current gas tax grows, we need to explore possible funding opportunities—such as road usage charging (RUC)—to ensure Coloradans the mobility they need to live, work and play."
Colorado currently imposes a per-gallon tax of 22 cents on gasoline on top of the federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon. Colorado lawmakers last raised the tax in 1991. The flat tax does not change with the price of gasoline.
CDOT is facing a nearly $1 billion annual funding gap over the next 25 years and is looking to explore transportation funding alternatives as the gas tax continues to become less reliable over time, due to decreased purchasing power and more fuel efficient and electric vehicles.
Using $14.2 million of federal grant states are conducting similar studies to test the mileage fee replacement for the per-gallon fuel tax.
Eight projects will consider a variety of revenue options, including onboard vehicle technologies that allow the state to charge a fee based on miles traveled as well as multistate approaches to road user charges.
The alternative funding grants will increase to $20 million per year in fiscal years 2017 through 2020.
The Washington State Department of Transportation will use its $3.8 million grant to test a multi-jurisdictional revenue collection system in regions where state and local governments could levy separate user fees.
Delaware's DOT will serve as the lead for the five states involved in the I-95 Corridor Coalition's user fee program funded with a $1.5 million grant. Volunteer drivers in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Vermont will test a system of on-board mileage counters.