Thursday, January 18, 2007

And on Page 2: MassPike Board Revisiting, Again, Taking Down Tolls

This is the second of a two-part series covering two hot topics (at least in my book) of today's Boston Metro. I highly recommend reading my first one on the MBTA's new "effort" to punish fare beaters.

Boston Metro, Thursday, January 18, 2007, Page 2 - the headline reads, "Means to an end| Pike board members push gas tax to eliminate tolls."

Quite frankly I could care less if the Commonwealth raises the gas tax. I don't drive that often; it wouldn't hurt my wallet that much. My beef is with this issue coming up again after I thought it had been mostly squashed shortly afterKerry Healy was in the recent gubernatorial election (ouch). But no--for whatever reason actually *gasp* charging tolls on a toll road seems to yank at the hearts of certain members of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Board. And since Governor Deval Patrick promises to veto any moves to strictly just take down the tolls without coming up with adequate other funding (i.e. he has common sense), this is the Board's latest ploy to make it happen.

Let me digress here a minute, like I like to do, to say that although this surfaced with Kerry Healy just weeks before the gubernatorial election, I knew all along that this wasn't just some cheap, last minute strategy by her to get votes--I knew the Turnpike Board had already had it brewing and that it would keep it alive, regardless of whether Healy won or lost. My only surprise was that it actually has found the time, and energy, to not focus on, heck, I don't know, recuperating millions lost on the Big Dig.

Back on track, my question is why--why bother? What the heck is wrong for charging tolls on the MassPike. Almost every civilized, industrialized state in this great nation has some form of turnpike, and guess what, they charge tolls. That was the point, that is the point. For some things this Commonwealth has proven itself to be capable of within the last few years--allow homosexual men and women to marry legally, elect its first Black governor--I am proud that we have gone far beyond the status quo. However to be one of the first states to eliminate tolls on a toll road--Ummm, no! "They" tried to do it on the Garden State Parkway--look how far that got. And, let's be honest, tolls there are annoying. Rather than charge you far out the *ss when you exit the highway, they just nickel and dime you, literally, after every so miles. Imagine riding an express bus or other bus or rail service and having to pay after every few stops or face being kicked off. Exactly.

But the real problem is the ironic solution: rather than charge just those who use the MassPike to *gasp* use the MassPike, the gas tax will effect all motorists who fill up in Massachusetts. If I'm not mistaken, wasn't the idea of eliminating tolls in the Western part of the state mostly to eliminate the feeling that most toll money was going to pay for things, such as the exorbitant Big Dig, in the Eastern half? So that's the solution--eliminate tolls and make everybody pay?! Am I missing something here; please let me know?!

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