How much do drivers pay at tolls across the country?

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Modern tolls use overhead gantries like this one on the Massachusetts Turnpike (Arnold Reinhold / Creative Commons)

Modern tolls use overhead gantries like this one on the Massachusetts Turnpike (Arnold Reinhold / Creative Commons)

Interstate toll roads typically cost drivers about 6 cents per mile, about the same cost as a mile’s worth of gasoline in a late-model passenger car. Non-interstate tolls cost a little more than double that: 13 cents per mile.

With tolls being eyed in the state legislature, we took a look at some data on how much tolls cost drivers nationwide.

The data set, from the Federal Highway Administration, isn’t meant to be comprehensive; it’s described as a compilation of voluntary responses collected every two years. It covers tolls that are in operation, under construction or financed as of Jan. 1, 2015. It includes cost-per-mile data for 79 out of 106 interstate tolls, but is missing data for the remaining 27.

Of the tolls with cost-per-mile data available, three-quarters of interstate tolls cost drivers an average of 13 cents per mile or less. The most expensive interstate tolls cost drivers around 50 cents per mile, and those were on relatively short lengths of road — seven miles on I-90 in Illinois and 14 miles of I-495 in Virginia. The least expensive tolls cost about 2 cents per mile.

In New England, two stretches of the Massachusetts Turnpike cost an average of 4 cents and 2 cents per mile; most of the tolls along the Maine Turnpike average 5 cents per mile.

To find the “typical” cost per mile, 6 cents on interstates and 13 cents on non-interstates, we used the median.

The data include minimum and maximum passenger car fees. The maximum fee at most of New York’s tolls, $33.70, was the highest among interstates. (Including non-interstates, the Pike’s Peak Highway in Colorado, at $40, bumps New York’s interstates to No. 2.)

There were tolls on interstate and non-interstate highways in at least 29 U.S. states. Including bridges and tunnels brings that number up to 35.

Most of the interstate and non-interstate tolls — 75 percent — had a fixed rate throughout the day; 18 percent varied based on a set schedule and 7 percent varied based on current traffic conditions.

Here’s how we estimated the per-mile gasoline cost: The average nationwide price of gasoline was $2.372 Wednesday, according to AAA. The average 2014 model-year passenger car gets about 36.4 miles per gallon, which translates to a cost of about 6.5 cents per mile.

Analysis for this story can be found in our GitHub repository.

What do you think?

  • Joseph Brzezinski

    How about calculating statewide toll revenue per capita along with gasoline tax per capita to display where states rank in automobile tax revenue?