The Colorado Department of Transportation announced a new pilot study Thursday that will look into idea of replacing the state's gas tax with a pay-by-mile charge.
It’s called the Colorado’s Road Usage Charge Pilot Research Study.
The 4-month study will launch in December, and will look at an approach where drivers would pay a fee for how many miles are traveled per month instead of paying the state’s $.22 per gallon gas tax at the pump.
By the year 2040, Colorado’s population is expected to nearly double to 7.8 million residents, which will result in higher demands for mobility and on the state’s transportation infrastructure, according to CDOT.
“We are facing a nearly one billion dollar annual funding gap over the next 25 years,” CDOT Spokesperson Megan Castle said. "And over the past two decades, Colorado’s current gas tax has become less reliable with the spike in more fuel efficient vehicles and hybrids.”
The department said the pilot is just the first step in an extensive process of evaluating the concept alongside other funding alternatives.
“What folks at home need to know is if you have a car that gets about 20-25 miles per gallon, you're probably not going to be paying more-- or if you are, it will be about a dollar more-- or a dollar less, depending on your driving," Castle said. "For people with less gas mileage than that, they're probably going to see money coming back. and then for the cars that are very fuel efficient—hybrids, or electrics cars-- they are going to be paying."
Some of the research topics in this study include mileage reporting technologies as well as a manual reporting option; how these technologies work in Colorado’s environment and the difference in driving habits between urban and rural drivers.
“A healthy transportation system is the backbone of our state’s economy and way of life." CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt said. "As the state’s transportation funding gap under the current gas tax grows, we need to explore possible funding opportunities, such as road using charging, to ensure Coloradans the mobility they need to live, work, and play.
The pilot study will begin in December and will end in spring 2017.
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