Transit panel urges gas tax increase

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A report being released today will recommend that federal gasoline taxes be raised by as much as 40 cents per gallon over five years. The hike would be part of a sweeping move to ease congestion on the nation's highways and repair crumbling bridges and roads.

The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission is the the first to recommend broad changes since last summer's fatal bridge collapse in Minneapolis. The panel warns that urgent action is needed to avoid future disasters. Its report says patching infrastructure "is no longer acceptable."

But there is internal division on the 12-member commission chaired by Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.

Peters and two other members oppose gas tax increases and will issue a dissenting opinion to the report. It calls for private-sector investment and tolls.

The gas tax hasn't been increased since 1993.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)