Skip to comments.Getting There: Myths abound when officials talk toll increases
Posted on 06/28/2011 8:28:47 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
When Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. won election as governor in 2002, he was faced with a tricky problem.
He had campaigned on a pledge to build the long-delayed Intercounty Connector in suburban Washington. The highway project would cost a fortune, far more than the state could afford out of its Transportation Trust Fund, and the Republican Ehrlich had taken a hard line against new taxes. He had to come up with some way to pay the $2.6 billion it would eventually cost.
The answer? He would make it a toll road. And to give his policies a semblance of geographical balance, he would launch a second $1 billion-plus megaproject in the Baltimore area: widening Interstate 95 northeast of the city by adding express toll lanes.
The opposition was underwhelming. The public, accustomed to thinking of tolls as relatively painless trifles, hardly raised a fuss. Business leaders were thrilled. Journalists, including myself, were distracted by the sexy issue of slots and barely paid attention when tolls were raised on the Harbor and Susquehanna River crossings in 2003.
Yes, the environmentalists tried to warn us that the ICC tolls would be high. And they were proved right. But I don't recall them ever talking about the tolls on the Fort McHenry Tunnel and Key Bridge. Had they successfully tapped into concerns about regional equity, they might have been more effective.
When the Ehrlich administration came up with its debt-heavy financing package for the ICC and the I-95 Express Toll Lanes, legislators forced some tweaks but basically gave it their blessing. A few far-out liberals raised a fuss, but the Democratic leadership and Republican minority were all for it.
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Maryland “Freak State” PING!
The toll collectors on the PA turnpike are Teamsters.
Over two years, I saw the toll for a small section of road increase nearly 100%.
Never saw any word done on that section of road.
Gotta pay those union wages.
Gotta pay those union benefits.
Gotta pay those union pensions.
Need to do some research...but I have always wondered how the entire United States Interstate Highway system got built in the first place. It takes one hundred and eleventy billion dollars and like 20 years to improve 5 miles of highway today. I am pretty damn sure it did not take nearly as much money or time when they were built. If it cost then what it costs today per mile, we would have been broke a million times over, and still be waiting for 90% of it to be built.
The “Tom Landry Highway” aka I-30 from Dallas to Cowtown used to be a toll road, only one I know of that ever had the gates torn down. He should just have hooked up with the Spanish company that builds and manages the ones here in Texas.
The huge unspoken joke about toll roads is that you get to pay extra to sit in your traffic jam. At least with the public roads, everyone shares the same pain for the same price.
Part of it is some Fed law (don’t know which) that says construction labor on Fed projects are to be paid a 22% premium on the prevailing wage.
The other part of it is the contractors themselves. Since there is Fed money involved, they see it as a means to milk it, and the Feds play along. This has been becoming prevalent on any project where FedGov money is involved, whether it is a road project, rail transportation, or defense. I call it what it is - corruption.
The Connecticut Turnpike is another. While the road was paid off, the state thought they could milk a few more tolls. Too many collisions at the toll plazas was the final straw that drove the decision to remove the tolls.
New York. The most expensive thruway in the entire northeast. Over 1 million a mile for repair work, over 500 miles of thruway and it is in abysmal shape yet we continue to pay tolls. Bridges across the entire state falling apart yet the unionized toll workers get some of the best benefits known to man.
Have been fighting them for years.
I’ve got news for you: the I-95 tolls are still there, at the Susquehanna River bridge.
Talk to the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, the authors of NEPA, etc. for more info. Rampant environMENTALism definitely jacks up the cost of building roads.
The high price of oil also makes the cost of asphalt, and gasoline for the roadbuilding equipment, quite miserable.
Kentucky’s toll parkway system had the last of its tolls removed a couple years ago. Also, the Astoria Bridge (Route 101) between Oregon and Washington had its tolls removed in 1993.
Typical liberal Democrat corruption. If your wife needs your life-insurance money for some reason, try driving the Tappan Zee Bridge on a regular basis.
For the Rick Perry supporters out there, don’t laugh too hard at Maryland - we had virtually the IDENTICAL thing happen here with our popular (that is, popular outside of Texas) governor.
In 2002, he got legislation and state constitutional amendments passed when everyone (but me) was sleeping. Then he started to put down the hammer and tried to convert state freeways to toll roads and even wanted to convert interstate freeways to toll roads.
Much of this grandiose plan was called the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC). People in the state FINALLY started waking up when Perry started the process of seizing 1000 foot wide ‘corridors’ throughout the state for the TTC (the plan was to have truck highways, rail lines, pipeline, electrical lines, etc. in these corridors, along with car tollways) and also when they saw the attempt to turn their daily commute into “revenue engines” for the state (as they say in Austin).
...and these toll roads were not cheap. They were essentially owned by private companies who were given the unregulated power to toll the drivers at any level they wanted (in other parts of the world they charge 20 cents to 1 dollar PER MILE). And just to throw salt into the wound, these companies were granted monopoly protection against new parallel highways, upgrades in existing parallel highways, or even resurfacing of existing parallel highways.
...and why did he do all that? Because, like Elrich, he didn’t want to be known for raising the gasoline tax by a dime. The tax had essentially lapsed due to inflation and the diversion of 25% of it ‘for the children’ thanks to an idiotic constitutional amendment passed when the Dems still ran things here and had some extra highway money.
So the lesson here is BE CAREFUL about which taxes to oppose. The longer people say no to paying for road work through gasoline taxes, the more hair-brained ideas like that of Perry will surface. For example, we now see a ‘mileage tax’ being floated in DC. Don’t think FOR A MOMENT that this tax is just for highways. Once they have the the transponders in cars and can set rates, the taxes will be ENORMOUS and we’ll end up like Europe, paying the equivalent of 8 or 9 dollars per gallon to drive (or even more, when they’re through here), so that illegals can have the health care they deserve.
It’s all called SOCIAL JUSTICE and, unfortunately, way too many Republicans are STUPID enablers in this plan due to their opposition to ANY tax increases (even when they’re just to keep up with inflation).
“Kentuckys toll parkway system had the last of its tolls removed a couple years ago. “
Yea, I have old road atlases where you can see the colors of the highways there changing to freeways over the past two decades. It’s a beautiful sight, but all too rare.
Here in Houston we have our toll roads and we have our increasing money diversions away from highways, simply because tolls are the EASIEST way to collect money from people - since most cannot do the math to find out that highways are VERY CHEAP to build and maintain, relative to the amount of money that can collected from captive drivers.
I don’t believe Perry succeeded in seizing one square foot of land, except for that seized for SH 130, which was intended to be part of the TTC.
I wouldn’t have a problem with the proposed 10-cent increase in Maryland’s gas tax, but they blatantly said they wanted it for choo choo projects. Heaven only knows how much of it will go to Maryland’s formerly good roads.
“I wouldnt have a problem with the proposed 10-cent increase in Marylands gas tax, but they blatantly said they wanted it for choo choo projects. Heaven only knows how much of it will go to Marylands formerly good roads.”
I can’t argue that.
“I dont believe Perry succeeded in seizing one square foot of land, except for that seized for SH 130, which was intended to be part of the TTC.”
Agree...it was when the plans started to get posted that people rebelled. We all did, somehow, manage to stop him. The point being that we had to stop him.
That was the lie that was told to Houston residents when they were building the beltway around Houston. The politicians said the tolls would stop after twenty years. When the twenty years was up, a reporter confronted the guy who was in charge of the toll roads.
He said, "If we eliminate the tolls on the beltway, we will have to find another source of revenue for the new roads we are building." Of course, the guys who were in charge twenty years ago are long gone and can't be held accountable for the false promises they made.