Opportunity Lost

So remember how periodically the idea of making I-70 a toll road to fund needed repairs was floated? And every time it was shot down? Well, apparently the opportunity to do so was left to die on the vine because we could have done it, and the legislature didn’t act. Now they are rattling the cages to see if they can raise the gas tax to pay for the roads and bridges. I realize that it’s really just a matter of which pocket the state takes the money from, but I prefer the idea of a toll road, preferably a private one, to increasing the gas tax. I do not think it is unreasonable for people driving on the road to pay for it, and I am willing to do so. Here’s why…

When I lived in Syracuse, one of the highways was a toll road. I had a transponders my car because it was easier than messing around with change. I could avoid the toll road if I wanted by taking a different route, and to be honest, in an area where they get a TON of snow and the roads are subject to salt and freeze-thaw, that highway was quite nice. It was well-maintained, snow-free (inasmuch anything was there) and I felt like my pocket change was a decent trade-off to have a safe, well-maintained road (even given that it was state-run). I have absolutely no problem with them doing that with I-70. My home state, and Gwen’s, both have toll highways; in PA and OH, they are turnpikes. Do I love those? Not terribly, because they are state-run, and I think PA is ridiculously expensive now. But it is our choice, and I like that about it. And I can also CHOOSE to pay (and I often do) to travel on a PRIVATELY run toll road—and, I love it. The road is better maintained than any road I’ve traveled on, it is faster, safer, there is less traffic, and it’s totally worth the buck or two it costs to drive on it. I ALWAYS take it when we travel from Cleveland to Pittsburgh now. And we like it and cheerfully part with our hard-earned money to do it.

My preference would be to privatize highways like 70, go ahead and make them toll roads. Let those of us who drive on it pay for it, and leave the gas tax alone. I am tired, of the state deciding what we should pay for, and I would resent the gas tax being raised, just like I resent paying for someone else’s cell phone. Talk about disproportionately affecting the indigent—what would the effect of the higher gas tax be on them, when they are only using their cars to get around locally? Or is it part of a larger conspiracy to get everyone walking and biking. If the liberals of today had their way, I doubt people would have ever made it west of the Mississippi because they disdain motor vehicles…unless they are driving them. Turning 70 into a toll road was an idea with real potential, and letting it go away was an opportunity lost.