July 19, 2002

4-lane Trans-Canada highway may be funded by road tolls

Ottawa, Ontario – A proposal by members of Jean Chretien’s Cabinet to expand two-lane portions of the Trans Canada Highway to four-lanes would cost between $10 billion and $15 billion, and may have to be funded by road tolls or a new fuel tax, according to Herb Dhaliwal, Natural Resources Minister.

David Flewelling, president of the Canadian Automobile Association expressed his support for upgrading the Trans Canada Highway, despite past objections by the CAA to new fuel taxes and road tolls.

In September of 2000, then-CAA President David Hunt said, “Motorists already pay a high enough level of taxes and user fees to various governments that no new taxes need be levied to fund a national transportation infrastructure.”

According to a CAA news release issued in 2000, the federal government annually collects approximately $5 billion in automobile related revenue, but spends only an average of $300 million on roads each year – less than 6% of the total revenues.

Traditionally, federal and provincial governments have split costs 50/50 for construction and repairs to the Trans Canada highway. Any new road construction costs would have to be paid in part by already-tight provincial budgets – forcing provincial governments to raise taxes or enact tolls.

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