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Guest donaltopablo

"Experts" urge more tolls, get away from gas tax

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Guest donaltopablo

An interesting article on the problem we are having with highway overcrowding in this country. I do have one question (the comment is highlighted below in bold). It states that tolls on interstates are prohibted on federal law, yet so many Interstates in the northeast are toll roads? How is this the case?

WASHINGTON --

Transportation officials and road builders panicking over the lack of money to build new highways say the federal gas tax is running out of fuel and should be abandoned.

One way out of ever-increasing traffic congestion, industry leaders preached during a two-day summit at the nation's capital, is to charge drivers at the toll booth rather than the pump.

"The stars are aligned for tolling and other direct user fees," said Patrick Jones, executive director of the Washington-based International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, which sponsored the summit. "The fuel tax and everything tied to the fuel tax is not enough to meet the country's transportation needs."

Separate transportation spending bills being debated in Congress would let states manage congestion by charging tolls on interstates. The federal government now prohibits the practice. One proposal would allow states to charge solo drivers a fee for using high-occupancy vehicle lanes, charge drivers on general lanes for traveling at peak hours, or put tolls on newly built lanes. Another proposal would allow tolls only on new lanes at peak hours. Congress is expected to vote on a transportation spending package sometime this year.

Almost on cue, the Georgia Department of Transportation decided Thursday to spend as much as $400,000 to study the possibility of building high-occupancy toll lanes throughout metro Atlanta. The HOT lanes would allow solo drivers to buy their way out of slow traffic. The state already is experimenting with a new law allowing it to tap into private resources to build toll roads on choked thoroughfares like Ga. 316 from Lawrenceville to Athens.

States' motor fuel taxes have gone from an average of 7.5 cents in 1963 to nearly 22 cents last year. But Ed Regan, senior vice president of Wilbur Smith Associates, a national transportation consulting firm with offices in Atlanta, said today's motor fuel tax penny has roughly one-third the buying power it did 40 years ago, once it's adjusted for inflation and greater fuel efficiency.

State and federal politicians have been reluctant to respond to the lag, fearing taxpayer revolt if they hike the motor fuel surcharge.

Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority Director Douglas Hooker said the state's low gas tax

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I absolutely hate toll roads. I'd much rather pay increased gas taxes than have to deal with the toll roads. Michigan does not have them, & I am so glad, because I just plain can't stand them!

Toll roads can be dangerous because you have to keep stopping all the time to pay more money. It's not safe to be going 75 miles per hour one minute, & then have to stop to pay more money the next. I've seen many accidents at toll booths because drivers were not paying attention & did not stop in time. Additionally, stopping every few miles to pay a toll lowers overall fuel economy, and increases the amount of time it takes to get from place to place.

I seriously doubt that placing tolls booths on more roads will cause any real decrease in the amount of overcrowding on the highways, and if it does, the traffic that would've traveled on the toll road will just overload the local roads instead.

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They have highways now that take pictures of license plates and send you a bill in the mail, only on highways though.

Yeah, my grandparents got a ticket for a traffic violation a few months back. They didn't even know they did anything wrong until the ticket showed up in the mail a few weeks after they'd returned from their trip. LOL.

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Guest donaltopablo

I don't mind the toll roads with the boxes that allow you to just drive right through without stopping.

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Projects constructed with state money like the Massachusetts Turnpike and its cousins in NY, NJ can be toll roads. Highways built with federal money cannot. Although the Ted Williams Tunnel in Boston was built with Big Dig money but has a toll because it is an extention of the Mass Pike. Figure that one out... :rolleyes:

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Guest donaltopablo

Projects constructed with state money like the Massachusetts Turnpike and its cousins in NY, NJ can be toll roads. Highways built with federal money cannot. Although the Ted Williams Tunnel in Boston was built with Big Dig money but has a toll because it is an extention of the Mass Pike. Figure that one out... :rolleyes:

Ahh, that makes sense.

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Um. I think this is a horrible idea.

Just raise the gas tax.

Significant drawbacks of a toll include:

*Less fuel efficiency; time loss; bottlenecks

*Administrative costs of having to account for a toll booth program

And the absurdity of having a separate toll lanes entirely is almost like separating the road into classes.

The poor who can't really afford the extra tolls have their roads - the rich have theirs.

Maybe I'm the only one who sees the class distinction, but I can see the BMW lanes coming soon.. LOL

I'm sorry, and I don't mean to take a cheap shot at Atlanta - but leave it up to Atlanta to come up with an idea like that... Having an entire roadway tolled or creating an HOV lane is a bit different from creating toll lanes. That is totally stupid. You cannot separate costs of creating different lanes on the same highway.

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Guest donaltopablo

I'm sorry, and I don't mean to take a cheap shot at Atlanta - but leave it up to Atlanta to come up with an idea like that... Having an entire roadway tolled or creating an HOV lane is a bit different from creating toll lanes. That is totally stupid. You cannot separate costs of creating different lanes on the same highway.

Actually, Atlanta didn't come up with this. I believe the first ones actually exist in the Los Angeles area and are currently in use. Also, many states (Florida probably being the best example) is far ahead of Atlanta in funding highway construction with toll money.

Georgia's recent program of allowing private developers to submit road construction projects to be paid off through tolls isn't even revolutionary and was copied from other state programs.

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We should definately be tolling all of our Interstates.

Expressway construction is heavily subsidized by tax dollars, a much higher rate than public transit. We need to reverse this if we're ever going to support sustainable development in this country. Limited access highways cater to private automobiles. They don't need 100% subsidies. We should be using that kind of money to revive our inner cities, improve education, and reduce poverty.

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I actually don't mind toll roads. Maybe part of this is because I grew up within five miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. However, I don't like it when you have to slow down in the middle main drag to pay a toll, not really because of any safety issues, but because it seems out of place. The one way I don't mind the toll plazas being on the main drag is if they're built at a state line, but if you're not near a state line, keep the toll booths at the ends of the exit ramps. As for traffic, even on the heavily-traveled Pennsylvania Turnpike, I've never seen any massive traffic jams. They have 10 to 12 lanes at each state line toll plaza, as well as on the exits that connect to other Interstates, so cars can pick the open lane once they approach the toll plaza. This, combined with the fact that you always see signs that read TOLL PLAZA 2 MILES or TOLL PLAZA 1 MILE so people can slow down in time, makes the safety issue overrated, IMHO. Also, with toll roads, the money you pay goes into the roads you use, so it's sort of like a user fee. No problem with that.

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I'm with heckles on this.

Why should the rich (or not poor) get to use the fast lanes, or big highway?

People still need to get to where they are going, they'll just find other routes. You build a highway to be used, why hinder people trying to use it? They love toll roads in Orlando. They just built a big beltway around the city, all tolls. Every mile it seems you have to pay another 50 cents or dollar. It's ridiculous. Furthermore, the roads are mostly empty. Great if you're one of the ones on them and can afford it, but why put millions of dollars into a road few people are going to use. Makes no sense at all.

Raise the gas tax and make busses free. I view fares along the same lines.

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The people that use the roads are the ones that should be paying for them. I am all for turning interstates into toll roads, so long as they use the SpeedPass technology that prevents each driver from having to stop each time they get on and get off the road. Especially here in Michigan, where the idea of a toll sends shivers up most people's spines.

Using a state-wide gas tax will penalize drivers in rural areas that do not regularly use metropolitan roads. It will also not collect a fair share from the trucking industry, which is often the culprit when it comes to road damage. "If you break, you buy"- it is time for people that use to pay for them instead of having our road system so heavily subsidized.

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