Shaheen & Booker Reintroduce Legislation to Help NH & NJ Finance Transportation Infrastructure Projects

May 25, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroduced the Toll Credit Marketplace Act, legislation that would establish a program to help states increase resources for highway and transit projects. The bill directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish a marketplace for the sale and purchase of toll credits, which are accrued when states use toll revenues to invest in transportation projects that benefit the interstate system. While toll credits lack cash value, states can utilize these credits to cover the local match on federally funded highway and transit projects. However, given the limited amount of federal dollars that states can dedicate their toll credits to, many states find themselves left with more credits than they can use. According to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, New Hampshire currently has a balance of more than $200 million in toll credits. This bill would allow states like New Hampshire and New Jersey to sell their excess toll credits to other states on this marketplace to bring in new revenue. These funds could be used for other transportation needs in these states. Shaheen first introduced this legislation in the 115th Congress

“Toll credits represent dollars being left on the table that could and should be put to good use on a myriad of infrastructure needs throughout New Hampshire. The Toll Credit Marketplace Act is a common-sense bill that would give New Hampshire and other states facing similar constraints the opportunity to get real value for these credits that they can turn around and invest meaningfully to repair our roads, bridges and other transit infrastructure that otherwise can’t be assisted with toll credits,” said Senator Shaheen. “We need to address our crumbling infrastructure. Senator Booker and I are providing a smart, economical way to do just that, and I urge members on both sides of the aisle to join us in this effort.”

"New Jersey is in desperate need of a substantial increase in dedicated federal investment to rebuild our aging transportation infrastructure," said Senator Booker. "Allowing states like New Jersey to sell its available toll credits in order to raise revenue to invest in our roads, bridges, and rail systems is an innovative way to gather more resources while boosting transportation investment around the country."

New Hampshire Department of Transportation Commissioner Victoria Sheehan said, "New Hampshire is proud of the investments we have made in the Turnpike System. That investment has grown our toll credit balance and we would welcome the opportunity to turn toll credits into cash, so that we can improve safety and roadway conditions across the state."

Background: 

A state receives credits from the federal government when it uses toll revenues to fund projects that benefit the interstate system or interstate commerce. States can then use those toll credits as part of their required matching share on federally funded highway and mass transit projects. The credits are not cash and cannot be used for any purpose other than as state matching funds. Despite lacking a cash value, toll credits provide states with significant savings because they free up state money that would need to be used to meet the federal matching requirement.  

A number of states have successfully used toll credits to cover the local match on federal highway and transit projects. However, due to the limited amount of federal dollars that states can dedicate their toll credits to, many states find themselves left with more credits than they can use. In this case, surplus toll credits are left on the table, even while costly and necessary projects are waitlisted. Meanwhile, many states that do not use tolls miss out on this valuable investment tool unless they establish new, expensive tolling systems.

In addition to creating a marketplace for states to buy and sell toll credits, the Toll Credit Marketplace would also:

  • Allow states to purchase toll credits on behalf of metropolitan planning organizations and local governments;
  • Require participating states to report on the transactions and the intended uses for the proceeds and toll credits; and
  • Direct the Secretary of Transportation to report to Congress on the progress of the marketplace a year after the program is established and to follow up on the completion of the pilot program with a report outlining the viability of continuing the marketplace.

Senator Shaheen has long fought to bring federal dollars back to New Hampshire to invest in critical transportation and infrastructure projects to fix Granite State roads, rail, bridges and ports. Shaheen recently reintroduced legislation, the Strengthen and Fortify Existing (SAFE) Bridges Act to begin to address structurally deficient bridges across the country. In its 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our nation’s bridge network a barely passing grade of C. According to ASCE, 42% of all bridges are at least 50 years old, and 46,154, or 7.5% of our nation’s bridges are considered structurally deficient. Senator Shaheen recently met with President Biden and a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in Congress to discuss good-faith efforts to address our nation’s infrastructure needs. Shaheen introduced legislation that would create a national infrastructure initiative to fund innovative projects that promote energy efficiency while meeting significant transportation needs. A senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen has historically secured federal funding for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Grant program – formerly known as the TIGER Grant program. In Fiscal Year 2021 government funding legislation, Shaheen helped secure funding for the BUILD Grant program, totaling $1 billion.