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Chapter 3 | Congestion charging as an alternative strategy

Figure 3.8 The ‘selling’ of the Washington gas tax increase

Source: Bremmer (2005, p. 38).

Figure 3.8 illustrates the ‘selling’ of the 9.5 US cents per gallon fuel tax. Details of the

274 transportation projects funded by the tax in 2005 are available for public scrutiny.

Furthermore, the wide disparity in state and local fuel taxes in the US reduces the

credibility of the argument that ‘higher fuel taxes are not possible’. As illustrated

by Figure 3.9, combined US state and local fuel taxes can vary widely between the

states—from 12 US cents per gallon to over 40 US cents per gallon. Federal tax brings

the highest tax rate up to around 60 US cents per gallon (15.85 US cents per litre)—

still quite low by international standards.

It is evident from this wide range of state and local gas taxes that there is no one

specific tax rate that is deemed acceptable. Community support for fuel tax increases

appears to be more forthcoming if the extra revenue is spent on specific road projects.

In brief, while innovative sources of funding should always be explored, it seems

premature to conclude that the fuel tax will be ‘non-viable’ over the longer term.

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