A U.S. panel created to recommend ways to fund road construction plans to propose that federal gasoline taxes rise as much as 40 cents per gallon over five years, a person with direct knowledge of the plan said.
The group will suggest that the current tax of 18.4 cents per gallon increase by 5 cents to 8 cents annually and be indexed to inflation after the five years, said the person, who didn't want to be named before the report is made public.
The panel, called the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, is scheduled to release its recommendations including the federal fuel-tax increase Tuesday in Washington. Congress created the panel in 2005 for the purpose of issuing the report.
The findings may bolster efforts by members of Congress who have tried unsuccessfully to raise fuel taxes over the objections of President Bush. The tax increase wouldn't go into effect until after Bush leaves office in 2009.
The commission will also recommend that state fuel taxes rise by an amount slightly larger than the federal increases, according to the person. The U.S. tax on gasoline was last boosted in 1993, by 4.3 cents a gallon.
Trina Leonard, a spokeswoman for the commission, declined to comment on details of the report.
The recommendations may also include greater use of tolls and public-private partnerships, said Janet Kavinoky, transportation director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and two other members of the commission plan objections over the group's majority findings that fuel taxes should be increased, Kavinoky said.
Those objecting also include Peters' former deputy, Maria Cino, and Rick Geddes, a Cornell University professor, Kavinoky said. The Chamber backs an increase in the fuel tax as well as other means to pay for infrastructure improvements, she said.
Brian Turmail, a spokesman for Peters, said raising taxes won't cut congestion and will send more dollars to Washington that will be misspent.
"The last thing we need is more of the same kind of broken policies and ineffective tax hikes that have given commuters traffic to everywhere and bridges to nowhere," Turmail said.
Turmail and Leonard declined to comment on potential dissent by members. Geddes said he wouldn't discuss contents of the report until it is released to the public.
"The commission did recognize the need for more investment in the nation's infrastructure," he said in an interview. "Everyone on the commission agrees with that."
A Cino spokeswoman referred a request for a comment to the highway commission.
Rather than tax increases, the Bush administration has promoted public-private partnerships in which financial firms such as Macquarie Bank Ltd. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. join other investors to provide roadway funding.
Goldman and Macquarie, as well as Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte SA and Transurban Group, this week announced they formed a group to advocate for more private investment in U.S. infrastructure.Congress in the same 2005 law that created the commission approved $286.5 billion for highway and transit projects.