Howie’s column from today’s Sunday Herald. HC column ping.
Dislike Pike Hikes? Let’s tax the bikes
By Howie Carr Boston Herald 10/7/07
It was a headline too good to be true, and it was:
Toll increase averted.
That was the top banner on the Boring Broadsheets Web site early Friday morning. No toll increase - stop the presses. I mean, the outrageous Pike toll increase scheduled for January has been in the works since 1997. No toll increase. What an unexpected break for the motoring public.
Er, not quite. I clicked on the story and saw another headline almost as misleading: Vote averts proposed toll increases. And underneath, in the subhead, the actual facts: Turnpike officials OK smaller hikes.
Smaller hikes. In other words, the cost of traveling through the Allston and Route 128 tolls is still going up, from a buck to $1.25, just as it was scheduled a decade ago. Thats a 25 percent rise, and it was not, repeat not, averted. Its just that the Patrick administration was floating a trial balloon that the tolls could go up as much as 75 cents, so their friends on the Boulevard gave them a free pass in the headline.
Imagine this scenario on the national scene: Inflation is raging and the Bush administration announces that it may be as high as 75 percent. Then, the actual inflation number comes in at a 25 percent annual rate. Would the headline be: Inflation averted?
Of course not. This is the oldest trick in the hacks playbook. Leak a bogus story about some monumental tax hike, then announce, no, we wouldnt think of doing that to you good folks after all. It wont be 75 percent . . . only 25 percent. To which you are supposed to respond, Thank you sir, may I have another?
Does anybody fall for this stuff anymore? asked Barbara Anderson, the head of Citizens for Limited Taxation. I dont sense a lot of outrage, but I think its not so much apathy as disgust. Or that everybody who cared is gone. Or dead!
The usual man-in-the-street interviews produced the expected responses. Most drivers expressed glee that their pockets would only be picked an extra $260 a year, rather than $780. If youre on Death Row, even a 24-hour reprieve looks good. These same goobers will be just as thrilled next year when they jack up the gas tax by only 15 cents a gallon.
Were told that these gas tax and toll increases (and dont forget, they also threatened to hike up the tunnel rate from $3 to $6) are needed for the infrastructure, which brings me to another point.
How the hell many bikepaths do we need in this state anyway? I understand that moonbats love to ride their 10-speeds, but this is getting ridiculous. You want a few specifics? The state is advertising for bids on a $3.9 million contract for a 6.5-mile extension of a bikepath along a railroad track in North Falmouth. Thats $600,000 a mile. For a bikepath.
No money for bridges, one Cape Codder told me, but $4 million for a bikepath in the woods to nowhere, add 20 percent for overruns and the moonbats get their ride.
Then theres the new Blackstone River Bikeway. We are spending $4 million for the design of a 16.5-mile stretch in Worcester County.
Next stop, Northampton. According to a newspaper story in August, the Highway Department is considering a bid of $1.4 million to build a segment .7 miles long. That works out to $200,000 for each tenth of a mile.
Heres one in Scituate. Theyre springing for $345,000 to pave a bikepath between the Dunkin Donuts shop and the wastewater treatment plant. Sounds like a very scenic route to me.
Next, we come to Mattapoisett. Their new bikepath is going to cost $1.2 million. Its a mile long.
Ive got an idea. Forget raising the tolls on the Pike and in the tunnels. Lets toll all the wonderful new bikepaths in the boonies. Well have a public hearing on the bikepath-toll proposal, just like the Pike always does, and then well just do it.
"Design" of a bikepath? What am I missing here? I would think you'd just have to move big rocks and trees out of the way and slop down some hot-top? There's "design" involved? Learn something new every day . . . (I wonder if a friend of Deval's is is the "bikepath design" field!)
One of Dean's compulsive bicycle initiatives eventually made it to the USSC. (Dean's side lost.)