Delaware to launch mileage-based user fee test

 (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

(Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Forget the gas tax, Delaware will soon be testing a new way to fund highway improvements. 

As the cars we drive get more fuel efficient, and more drivers opt for alternatives like electric cars, the amount of money drivers pay in taxes on gas is on the decline. That has states trying to figure out a more sustainable way to fund road improvements. Delaware will be testing a mileage-based user fee as an alternative. That fee would be assessed on how many miles drivers travel every year. 

The Delaware Department of Transporation’s Geoff Sundstrom said the state will start a 50-vehicle pilot program to figure out how the program would work.

“We’re interested to have a diverse cross-section of motorists in Delaware, so we’re not just going to use state employees, we might use a variety of stakeholders,” said Sundstrom, adding those test drivers would give the state feedback “not only on whether or not the mechanism used and the potential fee imposed is a fair one and makes sense, but also that the mechanism that we use to track the mileage is one that they’re comfortable with.”

It’s not known how miles will be tracked or how that will be reported to the state. The state hopes to have the pilot test on the road by next year. 

The test will be funded with a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. The state will work with its partners in the I-95 Corridor Coalition to test out the mileage-based fee.

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