Wednesday July 3, 2013

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:

I read your June 27 editorial "Bring back the tolls" and found your logic hard to understand. I led a ballot question group, Free the Pike, from 1994-2000, with its aim being to abolish tolls in Massachusetts.

As The Eagle knows, the tolls were supposed to be a temporary funding source, designed to pay for the construction -- not upkeep -- of the Pike. What you refer to as Gov. Weld’s political "stunt" in removing western tolls was actually his honoring the original promise to the state’s citizens that the road would be toll-free. The gas tax was always the primary funding mechanism for the construction and maintenance of statewide roads.

You also cynically state that most of the Western Mass. tolls are paid by out-of-state drivers. Aren’t they our brothers and sisters, not just hapless dupes who should pay our bills? Also, 40 percent of tolls are lost to the cost of collection.

A comprehensive transportation bill should, perhaps, include a higher gas tax, but advocating going back to an inefficient toll system shows The Eagle’s unwillingness to consider innovative or ethical public policy.

DOUGLAS BARTH

Sudbury