Letters: Wednesday, April 13, 2005
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Highway to Hell

To the editor: In response to “Paving Paradise” (March 30, 2005) I would question the idea that truckers would opt to take toll roads if given the choice. The New York State Thruway is a toll highway that stretches across the state from Buffalo to Albany. I grew up in a small town located about 30 minutes off the Thruway. The town is situated on one of the cleanest lakes in the country and is home to dozens of small boutique shops and restaurants. Over the years, it has developed into a tourist destination and can get quite congested during the summer and around Christmas. Despite the higher speed limit, lack of congestion, and direct route that the Thruway offers, many truckers choose to avoid the tolls (less than $10 to cross the state) by taking an alternate route that goes through the middle of the town. The town has tried various things to discourage truck traffic, from police roadblocks to perform truck safety checks and ticket violators, to putting up a sign on the Thruway advising those following the standard trucking routes that they should take a later exit to get to their destination more quickly. Still, the trucks continue, and there have been several close calls when trucks have wrecked, almost spilling their sometimes-dangerous contents in a lake that provides drinking water for nearby Syracuse and surrounding areas.
Driving from Niagara Falls to Toronto, many of the highways have express lanes. Similar to our HOV lanes, these are separated by concrete barriers and span two to three lanes. The lanes provide a useful separation of driving goals. Those traveling longer distances can do so without vehicles constantly merging and exiting around them, and those traveling shorter distances can enter or exit without interfering. Overall I think it serves the needs of both groups well and reduces congestion, and I would like to see such a system used here. But to charge tolls for that, particularly tolls in the range the article suggested, seems ludicrous. Why would I spend upwards of $50 in tolls, plus $25 or more in gas, to drive four hours to Houston, when I can fly Southwest Airlines one-way for as little as $39 and get there in one hour? Even their “no advance notice, fully refundable ticket” is only $95 each way.
Instead of lots of political campaigning and voting on propositions, why not establish a “Trans-Texas Corridors Investment Trust” to sell shares in the project to residents? If there is indeed public support, then funding it in this manner would be no problem, and profits from a more reasonable toll structure could benefit local private investors rather than overseas businessmen.
Michael Reilly
Fort Worth



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