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The View from the Valley

An Exploration into Town-Gown Relations

I-80 Toll: ‘Stupid Is As Stupid Does’

Don’t take my word for it:

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Rendell’s plan to lease turnpike unwise, study says

A study done for state House Democrats has concluded that it is unwise to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike to a private operator, as Gov. Rendell hopes to do.

Instead, the study supported the legislature’s move to keep the Turnpike Commission, raise tolls on the turnpike, and introduce tolls on I-80.

The study, by three experts from Pennsylvania State and Harvard Universities, is to be formally released today in Harrisburg.

How stupid is that? Obviously they didn’t talk to the Penn State professor from the previous post…

The jerks even stole my title:

The House Democratic study, “For Whom the Road Tolls: Corporate Asset or Public Good,” was written by Gary J. Gray, a visiting finance professor at Penn State; Patrick J. Cusatis, an assistant finance professor at Penn State-Harrisburg, and John H. Foote, a senior fellow in Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

…although the truth is that others thought of it before me, damnit. I thought I was clever and first.

More stupidity:

LancasterOnline.com: Turnpike CEO fights for I-80 toll plan

The Times-Tribune: Leased turnpike tolls may increase

The Intelligencer: Officials don’t expect drastic turnpike toll hike for drivers

Proof they counted chickens before they hatched:

Public Radio Capitol News: Funding for PA roads and bridges threatened

And some wisdom in the madness:

Pocono Record: Letter to the Editor: Oppose plan to toll Interstate 80

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Notice that just about every county with businesses and communities along I-80 opposes this, while people in Philly/Pittsburgh don’t seem to care? Funny how our elected leaders like to create plans with no consideration for those who will have to deal with the consequences.

I have no problems with tolling on the interstate, in fact, I support it, wholeheartedly, but not for the reasons anybody else is thinking about.

First, it’ll get the amateurs off the road, and that should make my driving experience much nicer and much safer.

More important, it’ll shift the cost to where it actually belongs–to trucks.

So why do I want the cost shifted to trucks?

Yes, having studied economics in college, I know that the costs will be shifted back to the consumers of the goods shipped via truck. That’s what I want. The more expensive the goods are, the less incentive to ship them, and an even larger incentive is created to not ship them coast to coast. The higher the costs of shipping, the better for our economy.

When goods are imported from other countries, the USA, for some bizarre reason, doesn’t tax them at the border like nearly every other country, so they become cheaper in most instances than goods produced in America. I would really like to see import duties and tarriffs imposed. That would be boffo, but tolling will still be helpful.

By increasing the costs of shipping through tolls, along with rising gas prices, an incentive will be created to manufacture and grow more products locally. If a farmer can grow nice, ripe tomatoes in Centre County and sell them at a competitive price with those from Mexico, he’ll do it. If I can make shoes in Lancaster and sell them competetively in Pennsylvania, I’ll do it. As it stands, trucking things doesn’t cost much, so we ship things in from all over the world, wherever it’s cheapest. Making things is where wealth comes from, and we simply don’t manufacture things in Pennsylvania or the USA anymore. Our economy is a house of cards, based on service. It just can’t last.

Regarding the tolling, though, it’s the hidden cost of fixing the roads that we seem to forget that we are paying for. The truth is that the perpetual cycle of construction on our roads comes more from truck damage than from freeze/thaw. Take, for example, Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. The road bed isn’t more than a couple of feet deep (compared to 10 or more feet on an interstate) and it hasn’t been resurfaced much over the many years it’s been there, yet the thing is in pristine condition. Why? No trucks.

Our tax dollars–hundreds of billions of them–are going to subsidize the trucking companies, making their costs artificially low. We incur those costs, which far exceed what we would pay in tolls, by the way. By tolling the roads, the costs will be placed openly and where they belong. The false sense of economy for shipping things will disappear. More local businesses will be profitable, and taxes used for road repairs could go elsewhere. I say elsewhere because taxes never actually go down, do they?

Think the above argument is sophistry? Then consider this: At any given time, our interstate highways have more trucks on them than cars. Fewer trucks mean less traffic. Less traffic means lives saved.

Toll the roads.

[…] areas to boost production, its head of exploration told the Le Figaro newspaper.www.theoildrum.comI-80 Toll: ???Stupid Is As Stupid Does?? Don??t take my word for it: […]


are you so empty you need to follow me around?

tolling the roads is stupid. your argument is stupid. therefore you are…


try considering all the people who aren’t truckers who need that road to get in and out of the area. consider the people who have jobs that depend on shipping who aren’t truckers. consider the fact that this is all just a ploy to fund mass transit in urban areas.

get real.

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