Howie mentioned today that even the Globe has noticed MA is losing population (wonder how big a congressional delegation we'll have after the next census). Heard today on Fox 25, they're debating where to add tolls -- Zakim Bridge is one possibility (note: not whether -- where!). The famed MA health insurance initiative has won national notice! Here's the WSJ piece Howie mentioned: The New Big Dig.
I'd resort to that old quip, "Last one out, please turn out the lights," but given MA's historical sluggishness paying its bills and its dim financial future, I guess the utility companies will take care of that!
Thu column (a day later than usual) & show ping
Pike commuters dont need equity, just reparations
By Howie Carr | Thursday, May 22, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com
Memo to the Turnpike Authoritys Toll Equity Working Group:
Those of us who commute on the Pike dont want toll equity, we want reparations. How many times do you tax-fattened hyenas have to hear this - the tolls were supposed to come down after the original bonds were paid off, sometime around 1985.
Guess what? The sun never set on the sun-setted tolls. The hacks decided to earmark the toll money, for themselves.
At the State House, they are just itching to pull the trigger on more toll hikes, and more toll booths, and what comes in their wake, which is more toll-takers. Why else would they keep floating these ridiculous trial balloons, only to shoot them down, sort of, later in the day?
In case you didnt hear the most recent non-denial denial, its not that tolls on I-93 are off the table. Theyre off the table at this point.
So Monday the Pike releases its 37 options for dealing with the so-called toll equity issue - the fact that some drivers are paying billions for other drivers who pay nothing. As for some of these 37 suggestions - you hacks were kidding, right?
This is on page one, under the chapter heading MassPike Commuters Believe That Not All Commmuters (sic) Are Paying Their Fair Share of Tolls.
So Option 3 concerns the West Newton exits, Exit 16, where the toll booths were taken down by then-Gov. Bill Weld during the 1996 Senate race. Its one of the very few breaks the MetroWest crowd gets - you cut through Newton on Route 16 and you can save the $1.25 youd otherwise pay at the Weston tolls.
The Turnpikes suggested solution: Reinstate Int. 16 toll.
So to deal with the problem of MetroWest commuters getting hammered, the solution would be to make them pay even more.
Next, we have another thorny issue (at least to the Pikes payroll Charlies): On the western part of the Turnpike, commuters pay nothing for CA/T (the Big Dig).
Theres a reason for that, of course. People in the 413 area code dont use the Big Dig. Studies have been done showing that only 8 percent of the MetroWest commuters use those leaky, God-forsaken tunnels on a regular basis, so you can imagine what the number is in the Golden West. Maybe .08 percent. Again, the equity solution - beggar more of the drivers who arent even using the rotten road thats eating up all the money.
Heres another bulletin from the Toll Equity Working Group: Many People Have Observed that MHS (Mass. Highway System) Tolls are Being Diverted Off of the Turnpike.
And here is their solution to this plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face information: Explain CA/T funding that MassPike only paid 12 percent of total CA/T cost.
Only 12 percent! That might be a good argument, if the Big Dig only cost, say, a hundred bucks. But it cost $16 billion - so far. So 12 percent is $2 billion.
No, the 37 options arent really getting the toll equity job done. Last I checked, equity more or less means equality. So heres the deal, either you take them ALL down or you build them for everybody. Of course, the hacks could just increase the gas tax, but that would leave all those toll collectors with no jobs. That aint gonna happen.
Which is why I demand reparations. If you stipulate all the boilerplate in the 37 options, it becomes clear that everyone who drives the Pike has been robbed over the past two decades or so, since the original bonds were paid off. Were not talking about something that happened hundreds of years ago to our ancestors. I just got robbed of $1.25 a couple of hours ago, in Allston. Put it on my tab.
Toll Equity indeed. Repeat after me, Mass Pike commuters: No justice, no peace!
Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/opinion/columnists/view.bg?articleid=1095642