Hauliers have rejected suggestions that tolls should be levied on new roads.
The idea of using private investment was raised by prime minister David Cameron in a speech at the Institute of Civil Engineering.
Geoff Dunning, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said: “We have an economy and a workforce that is desperately trying to recover from several years of extreme hardship. To hear that there are proposals on the table to take yet more money out of the pockets of motorists and hauliers is ludicrous and would do no more than put the economy back on its knees.
“Over £48 billion was collected from road users in 2010/11; fuel duty alone at £26 billion accounted for over half of that figure. Yet despite the amount raised, just short of £10 billion was used to improve and maintain the current network.
“While we welcome the acknowledgment that the UK road transport infrastructure needs to see major investment, we consider the proposal of introducing tolls on new roads to be quite unthinkable.”
And Dunning argued that fuel prices were a priority. “Unless we see the issue of fuel prices and fuel duty addressed as a matter of extreme urgency, the chances of traffic levels returning to the levels that reflect economic growth will be slim”.
Currently, there is one privately operated toll road in the UK, the M6 Toll. The average daily traffic figure between October and December 2011 was 34,286 – down almost 11 per cent on the year before.
The charge for a commercial vehicle to use the 27 mile route at peak times is £11.
The Freight Transport Association has said that it recognises the value of private investment in the road network but warned that any new costs should not be additional to current taxes and charges.