N.C. Newspaper says: Tolls are the Wrong Road

Link to Winston-Salem Journal article.

Sound all too familiar? Look what their road builders are pushing…SAMCo has some students!

The Wrong Road
Winston-Salem Journal
Sunday, April 23, 2006

NC Go, an advocacy group for road builders, says that North Carolina needs more toll roads. It’s wrong.

To no one’s surprise, the group wants the legislature to greatly increase highway spending this year. It proposes a billion-dollar bond issue and more local taxing authority for transportation and toll roads.

Whether North Carolina needs new roads is a matter for debate. The state might be better served by first repairing and upgrading what it has.

And whether the state needs more road money is also debatable. The state gas tax is creeping up steadily as gasoline prices rise. That rise in tax revenue allows the state to cover the rising costs of maintaining roads because of higher petroleum-related costs.

Regardless of how the legislature decides the first two questions – whether more roads and money are necessary – it should reject the expansion of the state’s misguided toll-road efforts.

Federal safety investigators reported Tuesday that toll booths are very dangerous, something the Journal has been saying for years. Toll booths raise many safety issues. First there are the rapid decelerations from 70 mph and the frequent rear-end collisions. Then there are the rapid accelerations. Motorists often switch from lane to lane, creating more problems.

Toll-road proponents point to new technology that allows motorists to drive right through toll booths without stopping, paying electronically. But the dual system of payment just creates more confusion as motorists approach.

There is a way around the problem, one used in the Midwest and on the New Jersey Turnpike. Motorists get a ticket when they enter the highway and then pay when they get off. But this system doesn’t work well in urban areas with a lot of exits and entrances.

North Carolinians who hate taxes should hate tolls even more. It’s double taxation. Toll payers have already paid a gas tax. And a toll is an extremely expensive tax to collect, compared to the gas tax. Part of each dollar paid at a toll booth goes not toward the roads that NC Go says we need, but to toll collectors, their bosses and the toll-road authority bureaucracy.

NC Go has an obvious self interest in calling for new toll roads. North Carolinians should reject this idea and say they want safe roads and transportation taxes that are collected in the most efficient means possible.