Toll Are Answer To Costly Highways

PaeageThe GUARDIAN is currently driving around France for the day job and spending more Euros than we like on tolls, but it is obviously the only fair way to finance highways.

The surfaces are flawless and drivers are courteous and competent–despite what you may hear about speed and disregard for safety in Europe. The exception is motorcycles which fly past well in excess of 100 mph.

Driving along the Rhone we see nuke power stations alongside giant windmills, providing power to run things like the high speed TGV trains that pass by at up to 200 mph. The river itself carries barges laden with freight, but we see little coal as an energy source.

It is a joy to motor through the countryside, but if one wishes to go quickly between towns, the rule is “pay to play.”

Comments & Discussion

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  1. After moving back to Boise from Richmond,Va where there are toll roads and bridges. I wondered why the connector isn’t a toll. A nickel each way would pay for a lot of road maintenance.. Good idea

  2. More than 20 years ago I advocated putting up a toll booth for maintenance of Bogus Basin Road since it only leads to one place and skiers, bikers, and sightseers benefiting would foot the bill. No way! “Idaho doesn’t allow such things” — so the ACHD (all taxpayers) forked out the dough for major repairs to that specific use route. A toll booth atop locations like Whitebird Hill or the road over Horseshoe Bend Hill would be ideal “pay as you play” venues since the alternative routes to paying a toll would be considerably more expensive or inconvenient. Decades later it’s still a good idea.

  3. It sounds like you are having a wonderful time in a place you find to be wonderful. You may want to think about applying for a visa so you can stay over there and no longer be put out living in Idaho with the lousy roads and rude drivers.

    EDITOR NOTE–Thanks for your kind words.

  4. If you think traffic is bad now, try installing greed stops. The result is gridlock. This greed then brings demands to widen the highway (never noting that the traffic buildups all start at the greed stops). I remember when Conn had a greed stop every couple of miles (it was not possible to get into 4th gear without speeding between stops). it used to take me well 2 hours to get from the western border to the eastern. The citizens took them to court and had the greed stops removed and the commute was over 30 minutes faster

    If people want to fund roads as a priority, then fund roads. Do not fund every other squeaky wheel and then whine there is no money for roads. Set priorities and fund what is important. That is called leadership.

  5. I see nothing wrong with the idea. Pay when you use it. Course those that use the heck out of it love being subsidized by others. Kinda like schools if you have kids in school then pay for it. Choice is you don’t have to have any kids if your not will to pay.

  6. I’m curious, with the nukes and trains (and little coal), how is the air quality?

    EDITOR NOTE–Air is really very very good…haven’t visited Paris this trip however. Everywhere we go there is an acute awareness of environment.

  7. This is also interesting

    It seems the greedy buggers need to jack up tolls when times are hard, just like states do…The NJ Turnpike increased the tolls 50%.

  8. Why do they have people who take the money for a toll? when drivers can simply toss some coins in a bucket? Is this practice like Oregon (where they pump your gas for you) or California (where they have toll booth operators)? Is that creation of jobs ….

  9. My pleasure, you’re welcome.

    Quick story: Visiting some friends in San Diego about ten year or so ago. The bay bridge that was promised to be free once the toll paid for the bridge. The bridge was at last paid off, but the government just couldn’t stop cashing in on the free money. So they told the citizens that they needed to keep the toll in place to pay for the workers who collected the toll. You can’t make this stuff up. Frankly, we pay all the taxes needed to have good roads. To come up with new blood sucking scams to cheat people out of more money and not reduce the size of government is criminal if not a sin. A state that taxes Milk, Bread and Baby Food is a state that is corrupted with greed. Again reduce the size of government is the correct answer.

    EDITOR NOTE–I believe the Coronado bridge is now free.

  10. Mr. Watcher
    Jun 13, 2009, 7:46 am

    Not so fast Ed!
    This is a classic example that we can see how government works in such matters, thank you for bring up the point. The Coronado Bridge was a up front deal that government gave its word to the voters if they voted for the bonds to build the Coronado Bridge. The toll would stop the day the bonds were paid off. It took 15 years after the bonds were paid off to get the toll to stop. The story above is, government is now looking at restarting the toll once again.
    The bottom line here is, we as citizens can not trust the people in government to live up to their end of an agreement with us the taxpayers/citizens.
    For more on the Coronado Bridge and its history of lying and cheating the citizens even with a written agreement from the time of the bonds were voted to be issued. Do a web search using: Coronado Bridge toll.
    Ed, have a safe trip home.

  11. Having lived in HOUston before moving here, I have to agree with JIMV on this one. Toll roads cause enormous congestion. And toll roads aren’t created on roads like Bogus Basin. They are put in place on the most-used highways so they will (someday) generate funds. And often the tolls start getting really out-of-hand — in CA they added toll “lanes” which are a method for the wealthy to get around quickly — at $12 for a round trip, unless you happened to use more than one, then your bill could easily top $20.

  12. Mike Murphy for mayor
    Jun 13, 2009, 8:36 am

    Bonjuir Confrere,


    No, no, no…

    We Americans want it all; but don’t want to pay for it!

    Passing on the economic, social and political costs to future generations so we can perpetuate the illusion of American economic superiority (“Free Markets” my posterior!).

  13. There are several toll roads in Orange County, California and they seem to work fairly well. There is a scanner on the roads that pick up a bar code in your windshield and you get a Toll Road bill each month. Those without the bar code get to stop at the toll booth..have you coins ready as they don’t accept cards or paper.

    The really interesting part is the toll may vary with traffic loads. The more traffic the higher the toll. Thinking is to get it high enough that each user will make a cost benifit choice. This does two things. First it keeps the toll roads flowing for the most part. Second, people know when high tolls are in effect and schedule their driving accordingly.

    The really nice part of toll roads are they get all users to pay and that includes out of state drivers.

    Crumbling roads has more to do with big heavy trucks than a car or pickup truck at less than 3 tons. The weight concentrated on each wheel of these trucks on the highway surfaces is tremendous. Get the trucks back on the rail syatem would be a good start.

  14. “The Coronado Bridge was a up front deal that government gave its word to the voters if they voted for the bonds to build the Coronado Bridge. The toll would stop the day the bonds were paid off.”

    That was also exactly the case with the Conn Turnpike. They had to drag the state screaming and kicking into court to get them to stop the greed. Maine passed a temporary sales tax increase and once again, the temporary provisions were ignored until the public threatened a law suit. Once government gets its fingers into ones wallet, there is no going back.

    Put another way, government can never ever be trusted to live up to their promises. California PROMISED that their scheme to register ‘assault rifles’ was in no way a plan to confiscate them…yet they did.

    As to another fellows comment on not wanting to pay for it…NO, we expect our pseudo leaders to set priorities, fund what is important and not the rest of the fluff. Politicians prefer to pretend all issues are their number one issue and never make a real decision. They always go back for more money.

  15. sam the sham
    Jun 14, 2009, 1:02 am

    i like the idea of toll roads. if you use them, then pay for them… if you don’t, well then – guess what!

  16. Monsieur Guardian:
    How are the taxes in France? Considerably lower than here? Or do they tax a similar amount and then still have to used tolls to pay for the roads?

    Mr. Watcher: Re we “cannot trust the people in government to live up to their end of an agreement”:
    Duh! Ask any American Indian how well the government has lived up to all the treaties they signed many years ago and *still* haven’t fulfilled.
    Or ask the military members who were told their term of service would be completed by a certain date, and then were told they had been “extended.”
    Or ask … oh, well, OK, anybody who’s ever had an agreement with or a promise from the government.

  17. More regarding toll roads:
    Last time I encountered them was some years ago in the Midwest (may I never have to go there again!).
    I think it was somewhere in the Chicago area that I began encountering toll booths.
    Never knew when the next one would be, never knew how much the toll would be, so couldn’t just keep the coins handy (hard to drive with a hundred or so assorted coins in one hand).
    The windshield stickers, RFIDs, gizmos on the bottom of cars (that some areas are proposing) to use either pre-paid tolls or bill the vehicle owner might work for the locals who drive those same roads a lot.
    But obviously wouldn’t do much good on a major highway filled with vehicles from all over the country.
    Tax on vehicle fuel at least hits the ones who use the roads the most and/or with the heaviest vehicles.
    Seems to be the only way, really.
    As for the legislators not giving money to the roads: People seem to forget they did indeed appropriate thousands of dollars for roads — just not the extra millions that our governor seemed to think would be a good idea to extract from the taxpayers at a time when a record number of them were laid off, cut to part-time work, furloughed, etc., losing their homes and cars because of that. Excellent timing, Guv!

  18. Totally off-topic, but I notice you travel around a lot for work. Out of curiosity, how much of your livelihood do you earn inside this community? Your well-illustrated travels give me the impression your way of earning your living is not much tied to the local economy, but perhaps that impression is wrong.

    EDITOR NOTE–Wonk, I “export” a huge per cent of my work–like other major players in Boise– and pay direct taxes only in the USA. I don’t use ANY government agencies like Commerce and Development to market overseas, and through the GUARDIAN I share my knowledge and expertise for free with the public. GIven my position on the Chamber of Commerce and its receipt of tax money and charity from politicos, I could never make a living in Boise without compromising my beliefs. Hope this helps.

  19. In same places in Europe, people pay the tolls for a few years. Then regional governments negotiate with the business to take the control.
    Some highways big companies are owned by banks-corporations.

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