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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 22, 2004

Forkenbrock Wins Academy Of Sciences Award

David Forkenbrock, director of the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, has been awarded the first-ever William S. Vickrey Award for the Best Paper in Transportation Economics and Finance by the National Academy of Sciences, Transportation Research Board.

Forkenbrock's paper "A Mileage-Based Road User Charge Concept" presents a design for a replacement to the motor fuel tax based on the actual number of miles driven. Currently, the motor fuel tax generates $60 billion annually and is the cornerstone of transportation finance. As electric hybrid and fuel cell vehicles appear, the motor fuel tax will become unable to finance the nation's transportation systems, Forkenbrock says.

"We use a GPS receiver on board the vehicle to locate the vehicle. An on-board computer computes the user charges due to each state and stores only the dollar figure owed. There is no tracking of vehicles' routes because we want to preserve road users' privacy," Forkenbrock explained. "The new approach protects the privacy of the traveler and ensures that the state in which travel occurs receives the revenue generated."

The research has been funded by a special pooled funding arrangement led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The participating agencies included 15 state departments of transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. The research was carried out at the University of Iowa's Public Policy Center. For more information on Forkenbrock's paper, see

The award honors William S. Vickrey who won the Nobel Prize in Economics and was a pioneer in transportation economics. The award is given to an exceptional paper submitted to the Transportation Research Board that makes an important contribution to the fields of transportation economics and finance. Vickrey was best known for his work on pricing but he was active in a broad range of research issues.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012, University of Iowa Public Policy Center, 319-335-6800