Sunday, July 13, 2008

No Double-Nickle, No Tolls

Two articles in today's paper aroused my ire just a bit.

The first concerns the idea of re-instituting a national speed limit of 55 mph to help save gas. This will be a massive waste of time and money. Virtually no one obeyed that speed limit the last time around and a large percentage of drivers don't even obey the current speed limits. I was on I-80 just last month and while my cruise was set at 86 (the speed limit) I was still passed by the majority of other cars. (For some reason the fastest drivers always seem to be from New Jersey or Michigan). If people want to slow down a little to save gas, that's fine, and the increasing price of gas might motivate more and more of them to do so, but I really don't think the goverment needs to spend all that time and effort necessary to re-institute a national speed limit of 55 mph.

The second concerns tolling I-80. Reading the article, I was almost tempted to change my mind on this issue. It spelled out how the money would be spent for new interchanges and other upgrades. The idea is invest the money now for later benefits. However I think that at the very least, this is a bad time. Drivers are already burdened with steeply higher gas prices and while some people can cut back on trips, the commercial drivers cannot. The cost of the new tolls will, like the higher cost of fuel, will be passed on to...guess who? you and me, the consumer. It will be reflected in the cost of the goods shipped along that interstate which, in this area, is just about everything. This at time when inflation, driven by steep rises in the cost of fuel and food, is at a pace we have not seen in a long while. Perhaps in the future when the economy has stabilized a bit, but right now is a bad time. Plus, how much is it going cost to construct and man the toll booths anyway? And where will these toll booths be? Many interchanges have rather short and steep on and off ramps so there is really no safe place without major alterations. I cannot fathom putting them between interchanges, making all the traffic stop to pay. This is extremely unsafe. Look what happens now when traffic is stopped or slowed down usually gets rear-ended by someone not paying attention. And one more thing...some percentage of drivers will simply take the "back" roads to avoid the tolls, putting more traffic on what are often narrow 2-lane winding, hilly roads that pass through small towns...creating more unsafe situations. So even though the money may be needed, I am still against the idea of tolls on I-80.

So Sayeth The Shack


Anonymous said...

According to the 2005 PennDOT "I-80 Tolling Study" (available here:, it says, "Conversion costs total $665 million, which includes construction of toll collection facilities, maintenance facilities and police stations.".

The Shack said...

Thanks for the info!