How tolls and tolled roads are inefficient, distort traffic patterns away from efficiency, waste gas, cause more pollution, and are mainly a way for state and local governments (and their enablers at the Federal level) to break long-standing promises, agreements, and understandings so as to gain new, or maintain current, sources or revenue, leading to further disdain for and distrust of government.

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Stop tolling our Interstates!: Connecticut will be voting in late May or early June 2019 on placing tolls on currently free Interstates and the Merritt Parkway, setting a dangerous precedent whereby states can put up toll gantries and obtain money from captive motorists on roads which are free and funded by the fairer and much less beaurocratic and intrusive gasoline tax. Please take 15 seconds to send a free fax to legislators in Hartford telling them to vote No on any tolls for Connecticut's roadways (...because if Connecticut is successful, the next state might be your own!).

Additional details are available on the Stop Tolls in Connecticut and Keep Our Interstates Free! page, as well as options for both CT residents and out of state motorists to communicate with the CT Senate and Assembly. Thank you!


04/16/2019: In 2003, we posted a response to a post about the inefficient, wasteful, polluting (more local traffic due to toll avoidance) and unfair aspects of road tolling, when the gasoline tax is a much simpler, fairer, cleaner, and efficient means of paying to build and maintain roads. Below is our updated (somewhat :) ) verison of this post, 16 years later!, as it seems this is even more relevant in 2019 then it was when it was first posted. Electronic tolling has made it too easy for local and state government officials, always concerned about re-election and maintaining their jobs, to use electronic tolling as a relatively easy way to enhance revenue, yet claim that electronic tolling "reduces" costs to in-state residents by tolling out-of-state motorists more (as if the gas tax doesn't do that already).

Most of these arguments are nonsense - typical political padlum we all hear every day from people - mainly elected and governmental officials - who seem to have no problem either flat-out lying or in distorting facts, and "re-interpreting" (read: lying about) long-standing prior agreements, promises and understandings just to keep themselves in office.

For example, in June of 2018, Rhode Island started its program of electronic truck-only tolls, with a generous "rebate" or reduction for truck owners who register their trucks in Rhode Island to offset the cost of the new tolls (read: placate a local constituency by using the trucks tolls to pay off local truckers). Yet Rhode Island's truck-only tolls likey violate Federal rules, and RI may, if the state loses a current court case, have to charge all cars instead of just trucks, despite the promises of the Governor and pro-toll state officials who assured a local state contituency eager for a quick-fix to Rhode Island's perennial budget shortfalls that there were "strong privisions" against car tolling. After spending millions of dollars to set up the electronic truck toll program and the cost of placing the physical toll gantries over Rhode Island's I-95 and I-295 corridors, if the program is declared illegal, does anyone really think that Rhode Island will dismantle the grantries? Or is it more likely they will try to recover the cost of the program by charging cars as well, which, from an admittedly cynical perspective, may very well have been the point all along.

Other states, such as Connecticut (which removed all tolls in 1983), are considering electronic tolling as well, as a result of Democratic Party majorities in both the state Senate and House following the November 2018 elections, and the New York state legislature approved congestion pricing for New York City, which will charge upwards of $10 per car which enters Manhattan south of 60th St., and will also use electronic tolling and license plate recognition (and no doubt an entirely new bureaucracy and patronage jobs - typical of New York City politics - for enforcement). And not to be outdone, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and their insular Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC) are making the currently free, I-295 (old I-95) Scudder's Falls Bridge (the only free interstate between NJ and PA westbound/southbound until 80 miles north at I-84 at Port Jervis) a toll bridge in the southbound direction by neglecting the current bridge and building a new one for southbound traffic and claiming they need some way to pay for it. (And when it is paid off, does anyone really think the tolls will be removed? And if the DRJTBC doesn't try to claim that tolls will be removed when the new southbound bridge is paid off [at least they're being honest for a change!], the point is that through their usual trickery, they managed to eliminate a major drain on their revenue by eliminating the free crossing with the new southbound bridge.)

While Wirelessnotes.org is strictly non-partisan, and we are opposed to tolling, electronic-tolling, and any form of photo enforcement and the use of license-plate recognition and data storage by any government, quasi-governmental, or private agency, regardless of political affiliation, we nevertheless find it odd that the Democratic Party has long tried to shed its "Tax and Spend" image, only to gain majorities in a number of states in 2019, and upon doing so, the first issue which the newly elected Democrats promote is...tolling, eg, taking more money - and in the most intrusive and least economically efficient way from taxpayers and motorists (eg, more patronage/government jobs, or money to private toll companies who may later show their "gratitude" by way of campaign contributions...totally unrelated to their votes on tolling, of course...). This apparent Democratic propensity for raising revenue and playing with words to try to convince the public that tolling is anything other than highly inefficient revenue enhancement which primarily affects in-state residents doesn't seem like the best of ways to hold on to the seats which they gained in 2018!

Despite the needs of always revenue-hungry elected officials for new and generally unaccountable sources of revenue, and their transparently hollow claims that tolling is the "best option", often ignored in all the continual distortions and back-room deal-making with the toll industry are the more pernicious aspects of tolls (and especially electronic tolling), which stem from:

Overall, electronic tolling is a symptom of a greater problem: that of state and local governments' inability to either raise the needed revenue, cut back on expenses, and/or find more efficient and cost-saving ways to do what they are supposed to do. Instead, they pass on a greater responsbility to the public, and as no legislator wants to raise taxes or cut services, they make up for the shortfall via electronic tolling, which provides an insular and unaccountable new method to raise revenue, and does so in the most invasive, expensive, and burdensome way, but allows elected and government officials to slyly claim that they have not raised taxes. This cynical and condescending "we know what's best for you" behavior on the part of government is likely in no small part why people feel that government no longer serves the interests of the electorate, and will say and do anything to stay in office, even when the results are plainly a poor decision made for the wrong reasons, such as electronic tolling, or tolling of any kind.

Hopefully, enough people will see through all this and realize that electronic tolling serves no one's interests except the tolling industry and the elected officials who want to remain in office yet not do the hard work required to properly address issues of a given state's or locality's finances, and swiftly remove these elected and government officials from office!

Below is the original post from 2003 as to how tolling itself, let alone electronic tolling (which makes tolling easier and more attractive to government, and more burdensome, invasive, expensive, and less attractive to the motoring public), results in the wrong outcomes. We're aware that there are some concerns about electric or alternative-fuel vehicles and how they don't pay the gas tax, but 99% of the motoring public who have "regular" cars shouldn't be forced into electronic or traditional tolling schemes as a result, and mechanisms can be found for electric or alternative fuel vehicles to recover the equivalent of what they would have paid via the gasoline tax using much simpler, transparent, non-intrusive and effective means than electronic and/or additional tolling imposed on everyone.



"Barry L. Camp"  wrote in message
news:29af2a9e.0301282059.4e2afc5c@posting.google.com...

(re: VA potentially tolling I-81 to pay for widening)

> As a Michiganian, I find it offensive that I would have to pay tolls
> on top of the gas taxes that I would be paying anyway. You can't
> seriously believe that the gas tax is going to be rolled back because
> there is now going to be a toll on one specific highway? It's an
> ADDITIONAL tax for those drivers. Dedicated, perhaps, but a double-dip
> nonetheless.
>
> Do you think paying twice for the same thing is acceptable - I don't,
> nor do I think any reasonable person would.
>
> If I am ever in that area, it will be on US-11, not because I am a
> cheapskate and want to dodge $5 or whatever the toll will be, but
> because I choose not to support this silliness.

Bravo!

The "agreement" or compact between the state and the motoring public was
that the Federal Government would pay "X" for build the road (with some "Y"
amount of state funds) and then the state will use its gas tax to pay for
maintenance and repair.

There were a number of reasons for this, one of them being the elimination
of predatory tolling in smaller states to ensure revenue for road projects
which would essentially benefit in-state drivers. Hence, if the NJTP, due to
a lack on any viable alternative (as they exert pressure against any
non-tolled I-95 or I-95 bypass, as did the Princeton group et. al. who are
now seeing a widened US-206 rammed down their literal backyards and wonder
if I-95 would have been such a bad idea...), were to raise tolls to $30 per
axle, and then decide to use those funds to pay for a NJ-18 extension, or
NJ-92 connector, or any other project which the state wants to accomplish,
there would be in theory a non-tolled alternative to prevent a relatively
opportunistic state like NJ from holding inter-state traffic hostage to
paying for its (generally) internal road projects.

Moreover, to use the above example, if the NJTP were to raise tolls and pay
for a group of improvements, the state no longer has to use gas tax revenue
to pay for/aid the Turnpike (not that it ever did), and can instead of
paying for the NJTP go and procure other road projects. While this may seem
great (at least at a superficial level) for NJ residents who get the I-95 NE
corridor traffic held hostage due to no I-95 and freeing up NJ gas tax
revenue (including that collected along the NJTP), it will eventually lead
to other states doing the same thing, eventually getting us to a point where
all facilities are tolled, traffic is backed up for miles, the entire point
of a FREEway system is vitiated, and on one wins.

The idea of tolls has always been to *quickly* build a road project (and
generally before Interstate funding became available as it was hard for the
states to get all the funds together without a bonded/toll system), and
after the bond debt was retired, the tolls were to be removed. This was
essentially the *promise* made by state legislatures to the populace, a
promise which has been broken countless times over by (generally) inept and
politically motivated legislators who find it easier to tax via tolls rather
than raise gas or general taxes as the more expedient thing to do (read: to
minimize the chances of defeat at the polls). It's always a lot easier to
take other people's money than ask your constituents to pay, so South Jersey
commuters who have (the free) I-295 and occasionally use the NJTP won't mind
if their local reps allow for a toll hike and/or don't want to build a free
I-95 since (a) they basically don't have to pay for it, (b) the gas tax is
not raised, (c) other taxes are not raised, (d) state funds (if any) will
potentially be available for local projects if they don't have to pay
for/subsidize the NJTP.

New York Gov. Pataki, patronizing his hometown Rockland constituency, got
rid of car tolls on the Thruway/I-287 in Rockland but kept the truck tolls
in place, as trucks had no viable bypass while most motorists knew how to
commute past the tolls via local roads. Again, state opportunism to benefit
a vocal (read: voting) group of local taxpayers who hated the toll while at
the same time getting generally out-of-state (thus non-voting and
politically irrelevant) truckers to make up for the lost revenue (which as
per the bond agreement the state should not be charging at this point in the
first place).

As a result, most toll systems, way past having paid off their bond
issuances, are still charging tolls. (I can think of only CT which got rid
of all of its tolls after a tragic fire at an I-95 toll plaza where an fuel
truck struck a booth killing/burning a number of people. I believe Montreal
got rid of all of theirs as well, although I'm not sure as to the history
behind the removals.) The New York State Thruway was paid off in 1991 or so,
yet Gov. Cuomo, needing additional funds, had the NYS Thruway "purchase"
I-684 and I-84 and then maintain it, ensuring that the Thruway Authority
stay in business in perpetuity.

In other cases, toll revenue is directly (and apparently legally)
transferred to other state projects. The Tri-Boro Bridge and Tunnel
Authority (TBTA) in New York was taken over the the MTA (subways, buses,
commuter rail, suburban buses) and toll revenue diverted to paying for
mass transit. In the 1970s (or early 80s?) a federal appellate panel
decided 2-1 that it was "OK" for toll revenue on Interstate highway
systems and bridges to be diverted to other regional projects since they
supposedly reduce the overall level of traffic. Tolls on TBTA facilities
in the past 20 years went from 50 cents (see "The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3"
for a humorous footnote to back this up! :) ) to $3.50 and likely $4.00
soon. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANY/NJ) had similar
increases, although somewhat less drastic. The real reason for this was
that the Port Authority (which runs the Hudson crossings) needed money to
pay to rebuild PATH, the old Erie-Lackawanna (?) mass transit line from
Newark/Hoboken to Manhattan (they were REQUIRED to do this in order to get
the World Trade Center built in the late 1960s). Neither NY nor NJ wanted
to pay the billions it would eventually take to repair the PATH tubes, buy
new equipment, do the trackwork, etc. So instead, they saw the captive
motoring public as a way to raise the needed revenue with the least
adverse political ramifications, and the appellate panel essentially
rubber stamped the decision (as they did with a somewhat different fact
pattern with the Delaware Mem. between NJ and DE). 

If you drive on any of the TBTA "facilities", you'll see that the tolls
($6 or $17 for the Verrazano) are not being used to maintain the
bridges/tunnels -- some are in pathetic condition as compared to similarly
aged facilities which charge a lot less (compare, for example, the Brooklyn
Battery Tunnel at $6.00 with the I-895 tunnel in MD, which arguably see
similar levels of traffic (the BBT is generally underutilized off-peak,
likely due to the toll and the availability of nearby free alternates).

Overall, it is simply TOO easy to just keep charging the tolls and not using
general/gas tax revenue to live up to the given state's obligations of road
maintenance and in the case of the decrepit TBTA and the PANY/NJ, paying for
other projects which have ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with roads. It is indeed
questionable whether the Federal appellate panel was correct in stating that
funding PATH with toll revenue would help reduce traffic congestion; PATH
may have lead to the buildup of a commuting/mobile population in Hoboken and
Jersey City which are now requiring more roads and facilities and taxing the
tunnels with evening trips into the City with people who have the disposable
income to pay the tolls (and apparently the time) and who have moved to the
Jersey riverfront for daytime commutation purposes but who also drive at
night and cause further congestion.

NOTE: I'm a big fan of PATH; I think they do a generally decent job and
managed to show the TA that it is indeed possible to have air-conditioned
subway cars in older systems :). I would love to see increased funding for
PATH and an extension to EWR and a connection or transfer to the 7-IRT via a
new tunnel and/or trackage along the Highline freight infrastructure in
lower Manhattan. For that matter,  a light rail link along the Highline with
bike/walking paths, shops, snack areas, etc., would be a great idea. I'd
like to see the Second Ave line built all the way down to Wall St and maybe
extended via tunnel to Brooklyn and Staten Island. I'd like to see the LIRR
run through service to Metropark (b/c it is the only decent parking lot
nearby!). I'd like to see tons of more parking spaces along the New Haven
and Harlem divisions; eg, a DC-Metroization of the service so it attracts
ridership, perhaps along a re-activated Putnam Division. I'd like to see the
LIRR unused Garden City branch go to a new huge parking lot near Roosevelt
Field/Roosevelt raceway allowing easy access for shoppers via the LIRR and
tons of parking for a system which has very little. I'd like to see the
Rockaway Branch re-opened and connected to JFK, the Credmore Branch (or a
mirror image) connected to a park-and-ride along the GCP/CIP interchange,
and commuter service from Bradley to Hartford to New Haven and on to New
York...and I'd like...I'd lke...? (I'd like a trip to Europe! :) )
Anyhow....

In other words, I'm not opposed in any way to mass transit, and encourage
its funding and would use it the New York Metro area if it were as
convenient as the Metro is to our offices in suburban DC. (Indeed, I was so
impressed by the easy of driving to a Metro station along I-66, parking
without any hassle, knowing your car will be safe, and being in the District
in 20 minutes that we located near Vienna solely b/c of the Metro. I've love
to see such easy access to rail facilities in NY and would use them a lot
more often if they were available.)

Tolls also distort traffic patterns and encourage toll evasion which can
skew growth and economic development in unpredictable ways. I think one of
the reasons that Staten Island is (except for a few wealthy communities such
as Todt Hill) the generally ugly and unaesthetic place with crumbling
infrastructure that it is due to the only means of access being by toll.
Having to sit in traffic on the Verrazano for 30 minutes and then pay $7 for
the privilege just to go shopping at the West Shore Mall (along NY-440)
would seem ludicrous to a Brooklyn resident. Instead, many of Brooklyn
shoppers will drive over the Brooklyn, Williamsburg, or Manhattan Bridges
(all toll free City Bridges, built with public funds with either the express
or implied intent they not be tolled), drive through lower Manhattan (an
area which does NOT need any more traffic), out through the Holland Tunnel
(again, also way beyond capacity) to Jersey Gardens or Jersey City where
they can (a) not sit in traffic along the Verrazano for 30 minutes, (b) not
pay the $7 toll, (c) have a better chance with less traffic at the Holland,
(d) and get a tax discount for shopping in Jersey at an urban tax
development area. And should the current moron running City Hall who favors
a host of new predatory taxes (a new commuter tax, for example) get his way
and somehow manage to toll the East River bridges, then traffic will again
be skewed and people from Brooklyn will drive along the Belt to LI and shop
there, etc.  It may not happen all at once, but over time, people will learn
that they don't have to sit in traffic to be lucky enough to have a pay a
toll for their time, and drive elsewhere.

As a result, I'm not surprised that the West Shore Mall on SI isn't doing
well, as is the case, from appearances, the rest of the Island. Who from
Jersey would pay $12 to shop on SI and pay higher tax? Who from Brooklyn
would drive in traffic and pay $17 when they can shop locally (at a somewhat
more downscale set of malls) or drive to NJ and pay less? When I am in NY, I
stay away from the Verrazano in order to avoid the traffic and the tolls,
and thus may be missing out on something SI has to offer (I'd tell friends
who lived there to just meet in Manhattan since it was such a pain). In the
long run, does SI benefit from this?

Finally, tolls have a way or hurting the "home" population as well. A few
years ago, I heard the Old Bag Whitman on WCBS 880 AM Newsradio's "Let's
Find Out" call-in talk show field a call about tolls on the Garden State.
The caller asked "Instead of having a $.35 toll plaza every 10 miles on
(sic) the GSP, why not just raise the gas tax 1/2 a cent and get rid of all
the nonsense traffic?". Whitman, in her usual pass-the-buck way, replied
"Because it means that out of state drivers will be able to take advantage
of NJ since they will buy gas in NY or PA and not buy enough in NJ to make
up the difference..."

I was shocked when I heard this! OUT OF STATE? Has that idiot ex-governor
ever even driven on the GSP on a Friday in the summer (or any day for that
matter in rush hour?) (Perhaps she did on her drive to the Atlantic City
Expressway where she was stopped doing 80 mph on her way to Trenton to vote
against raising the speed limit! :) ) I've been on the GSP countless times,
and 95% or more of the motorists have Jersey plates! Also, out of state
drivers will get gas in NY and PA? Why? With gas prices 20 cents less than
those two states who would be stupid enough to NOT get gas in NJ! (I'm not
making a case for increasing Jersey's gas tax per se, but pointing out how
totally out of touch elected reps can be with the day to day goings on of
the motoring public, and factor in tolls as a "minor" necessary evil without
appreciating their true impact on the commuting public.)

The Old Bag Governor aside, the GSP a pain in the neck for locals, so much
so that when the state had some money a few years ago, they were actively
talking of getting rid of (at least) the mainline tolls. Additionally, due
to the traffic on the GSP and the exacerbation of it vis a vis tolls, it is
generally easier for vacationers who reside in NY or Philly to seek
alternate, somewhat less congested destinations, such as LI's North Fork
(less travelled than the Hamptons) or Rehoboth to Philly Metro residents.
Why sit on the GSP going to Cape May when you can get on DE-1 (and then
US-13 to beat the tolls on the still unfinished road:) ) and be in Rehoboth
in about the same amount of time?

Overall, I am not *conceptually* opposed to tolls AS a *limited* funding
mechanism, although I do have problems with them due to safety, speed,
traffic skewing and pollution issues. (Update in 2017: I'm just totally 
opposed to them now - once you put them, like any organization, they will 
fight and stall and claw at the anything they can to stay around, like 
cats being dragged to the bathtub. It's too just easy to put up toll 
systems with photo (read: spying) cameras and to send (surcharged) bills 
by mail. On the bright side, it's hard to set up interstate enforcement 
agreements on photo or electronic tolls, so out of state drivers can 
generally "drive for free" and ignore, with little to no consequence, the 
bills sent in the mail, but electronic tolling, and the logistical, 
privacy, exorbitant fines, and proper notice aspects are subjects of a 
whole other post.)

However, if the NJTP wants to charge a toll, why am I also paying gas tax at
rest stops along the NJTP? This is a (in part) Federal Tax designed to pay
for Federal (free) road projects. If I am on a toll facility, why are rest
stops charging the Federal tax? Shouldn't we not be charged this tax on the
NJTP? Or maybe other states should be given a greater allocation of Federal
Gas Trust funds than  NJ since NJ wants to augment its roads with tolls and
maybe doesn't need as much as states which do not do so. It's only honest
and fair, but the NTJP/The State of NJ will of course never do this...

If the NY State Thruway Authority makes a promise to citizens of the state
of NY (who may have had an up or down bond issue vote to create it in the
1950s..?) that after the bonds are paid off the tolls will come down, and
then decide they would like to keep their jobs and not be handed over to NYS
DOT and scheme with the Gov. Cuomo to "bribe" the state into keeping them
around (regardless of who initiated the idea), should not the citizens of
the state of NY who were promised something get to vote on changing the
promise? Or maybe a toll-rebate should be paid since they approved of and
paid tolls under false pretenses...It's only honest and fair, but NY State
will never do this... 

And this blatant dishonesty in state and local government, as well as
Federal complicity in allowing it on Federally-funded roads, may in no
small part be why Americans no longer trust government, and see leaders
who break long-standing promises on tolls [see the used-to-be-free
Scudder's Falls Bridge on ex-I-95 now-I-295 between NJ and PA as a prime
example of the dishonesty and crookedness of toll and state/local
officials] as dishonest, misleading, and untrustworthy elected officials
who will do whatever it takes and violate whatever agreements, norms, and
understandings about how roads should be funded, merely to claim they are
"not raising taxes", when in fact that is precisely what they are doing,
and in one of the most inefficient, privacy-invasive, and unaccountable
(tolls are usually collected through unaccountable agencies, like the
aforementioned TBTA/MTA ($8 to $18 tolls in 2019 depending on the
facility), the PANY/NJ (nearly $17 tolls in 2019), MD-200 ICC tolls ($4 in
rush hour, with penalties for non-payment which get into the THOUSANDS of
dollars, etc.) and "back-room political dealing" anti-democratic ways
possible. (Wait till the Governor of Rhode Island gets her truck-only
tolls defeated, is she going to say "Oh, I guess we'll take them down
then" or is she going to see "Well, we spent all the money to put up the
tolls, so we'll have to charge cars now too!", as was likely the plan all
along...)

If the interstate motorists and truckers who come from states with the
integrity, honesty and accountability not to predatorily charge motorists in
their own states are forced to pay to go through states/regions with few
alternatives like NJ or the I-81 corridor along the mountains of western VA,
should not MD reciprocate and not charge what is essentially a hostage
motoring public a toll just because "we can get away with it?". It's only
honest and fair, but the PA of NY and NJ, for example, will never drop tolls
in cases where they are predatory and disproportionatelty affect
out-of-state motorists.

What it comes down to is this: Tolls, and Toll Authorities, although perhaps
well intentioned initially, rarely, if ever go away. And what starts out as
an idea to rapidly improve roadways turns into a cash cow for the state
which it will milk for all it can, and be damned with comity, reciprocity,
speed, pollution, traffic, skewed driving patterns, etc.

Tolls are a way for the increasingly morbid, lethargic, and dysfunctional
state legislatures (of which no greater example I can think of than NYs!
;)), all on anti-new-tax binges (or at least until they see what their
deficits will be this year), to hypocritically sneak in all sorts of new
non-tax revenue enhancements/displacements just so reps can go home to
their districts and pretend that they are holding the line on taxes. (Look
at your phone bill; why are you paying a tax to have a phone ON TOP of
sales tax? B/C people don't usually look at that line...In NYC, a $30
cellphone bill turns into a $39 bill when all the Federal and State taxes
are added in. Did you/would you vote for the Congress Rep/Senator who
allowed these taxes to pass? Hard to tell since it is hidden in your phone
bill in small incremental amounts and not a new bracket clearly noted on
your income tax forms. The same "smoke and mirrors" goes on with tolls...)

The most pernicious thing about tolls is that the agencies which run them
develop an "agency mentality", a worker base, and thus political clout.
Throw in the fact that they help balance the state budget via a myriad of
ways, and it's easy to see why they never go away. They are aloof,
unaccountable entities which serve the political aims of nearly all state
reps and deflect voter anger but who themselves are responsible to the state
body politic in only the most tangential of ways.

IF a road project would legally guarantee that after paying off its bonds
the tolls will be removed (a sunset provision which will require a direct
voter plebiscite to alter), and IF the motoring public's tolls were to go
ONLY for building/improving a road, and IF gas taxes on those facilities
were lowered to account for the lack of Federal/State trust fund
contributions to that road, and IF the toll authority were directly
controlled and accountable to the legislature, and IF there were no other
funds available to build the road in the foreseeable future, and IF the
tolls were designed to be safe, fair, not require electronic surveillance
for a "discount", and IF they were not used as a point where local police
can check you out (Whitestone Bridge/I-678 toll plaza regularly sees NYPD
checking for expired regs as you drive by; in 2018 with electronic tolling
make-work now takes place with newly deputized NYS Police (still in TBTA
police cars but repainted) monitor (read: spy) on every car going over the
bridge and pull over those who haven't paid tolls. Do we really want to be
spied on to this extent, and to create an entire new arm of government -
and thus costs and payroll and pensions - to do this? Isn't the gas tax,
which is efficient, anonymous, somewhat self-regulating, and the least
costly to administer a better way to fund roads, allowing that non-gas
cars may either pay less or to compensate for them cost more to register?)
and IF the road served mainly local needs and was not designed with
cynical provincialism in mind to "get the other state's motorists to pay
for the road", then, perhaps, I'd be less opposed to tolls. 

But the truth unfortunately seems to be that modern day tolls are
essentially an outgrowth of the inability of a given state to budget and
fund priorities, combined with a cowardly legislative agenda designed to
duck "hard" issues and shy away from voter/taxpayer concerns rather than
grapple with and address them openly and directly. If the ability to
essentially burden out-of-state (non-voting) motorists via tolls is
available, it seems that legislatures will always do the cheat/easy thing
rather than think macroscopically as to the effect on a given region and/or
retaliation by border states.

The Interstate Highway system proposed under FDR was initially to be a toll
system, but it was *precisely* for many of the aforementioned reasons
relating to provincialism and opportunism that it was ultimately and wisely
decided to make it toll free.

Given the tendencies of states to be penny-wise and pound-foolish and not
realize the broader benefits of seamless transportation without any/some
unnecessary external transaction costs, and for all of the reasons iterated
above, despite my conceptual willingness to consider tolls in some limited
cases, my practical sense of the myriad of political realities and
exigencies compels me to be vehemently oppose any new toll systems and to
vigorously support any/all efforts to have tolls removed from our Nation's
highways, bridges and tunnels. (Inasmuch, Interpage will consider offering
free fax/lobbying services at no benefit to itself to groups espousing
similar goals and/or the construction of toll-free road projects.)(And just
so transit activists don't think this is biased against then, we would also
consider similar arrangement with pro-transit advocacy groups which do not
espouse taking money from motorists or highway funds.)

(As a footnote, providing I ever become a billionaire, I'd like to put up
Fastlane/EZ-Pass readers up along non-tolled NJ roads and advertise to
motorists that if they use those roads for even one day a week we will pay
them $X per trip. Maybe enough people will do it to cause the Turnpike and
other toll authorities and the states which hide behind/benefit from them
to consider alternatives. I know, I know, a billion dollars can help cure
cancer, or educate thousands of people, or help send people to explore
Mars, etc., but the pure joy and delight of being able to see actual worry
upon the oh-so-comfortable faces of the admins. of the NJTP, the PANYNJ,
the TBTA (or even just bankrupting the Delware River Bridge Authority
before the new Scudder's Falls Bridge comes online) and all the other
detached toll authorities and their state legislators who hide behind them
may very well be worth it instead! :) )

(Not that the site has ANYTHING to do with this post, but....: This post and
SID list are also available at http://www.wirelessnotes.org)

Regards,

Doug






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Last updated: 04/16/2019