Graves, center, introduced a bill last year that would phase out the federal gas tax.
Also, making states responsible for their own transportation networks could have serious national consequences. States such as Montana or North Dakota that carry truck traffic to and from the West Coast are crucial for commerce and homeland security purposes. But they would not be able to maintain their current level of infrastructure if they were forced to rely on their own tax revenue.
“You’ve got a lot of your large-landmass, low-population states where it would be hard for them to actually raise enough gas tax revenue at the state level to replace what the federal funding brings to that state,” said Jim Tymon, director of program finance at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. “If you want an interconnected system of transportation across all states, that’s the whole rationale for a federal program.”
At the same time, Tymon said, weaning the country off a federal gas tax would take at least two years and be expensive, because Congress would have to come up with an alternate source to pay for the projects that are already in the pipeline.