Monday, June 9, 2008

Dumb Idea Du Jour

Toll roads.

I don’t in principal object to the idea of toll roads, if the intent is to encourage, say, car pooling. But as a means of financing new road construction? Dumb idea!

For one thing, toll roads are costly to operate. You have to pay for staff, toll stations, equipment, etc. By the time you pay the operating costs, there’s not enough left over for road building. Unless, of course, your toll is so high, or your traffic so heavy, that no one uses the dang thing anyway.

Secondly, the Tennessee state law permitting toll roads only applies to new roadways. We aren’t talking about a toll on I-40. So I just question how much traffic these new roads will get?

Look, there’s a reason toll roads have fallen out of favor. I don’t think they make economic sense as a money-generator. I understand that costs are going up and revenues are going down but for crying out loud, do we really need all of these new roads?

Here’s a radical thought for Sen. Diane Black and the other toll road boosters: I know it would be really cool to have a bridge named after you, but why don’t we first worry about paying for these projects? If the money isn’t there, then how about putting the project on hold until we can pay for it? So your constituents “want ... a more direct commute to Nashville.” Suck it up. And if “I-65 is at capacity,” maybe we could encourage people to double up instead of clogging the roads with one-person SUVs.

Just a thought.