Tolls wrong for locals, visitors

Friday June 28, 2013

To the editor of THE EAGLE:

Once again we see the politicians advocating restoration of tolls for private cars on the Western section of the Mass Pike. There will be debate about this. Most irksome is the fact that our Western Mass representatives, (I bet they don’t pay) and the Eagle, are supporting tolls. Close behind is the fact that our tolls subsidize Boston subways.

The Mass Pike is part of the Interstate highway system, Eisenhower’s legacy to the nation. It is supposed to be toll-free. Throughout the nation it generally is. When the Mass Pike was accepted into the system the deal was that the tolls would be abolished when construction bonds were paid off.

That happened decades ago, but the state somehow forgot the agreement. The debate about tolls should be about why there are tolls on ANY section of the road.

Those who promote tolls say that tolls will not discourage tourists. Maybe so. The tourists don’t know what they are in for until they get here.

Besides, tolls are a minor part of the total cost of a vacation. For local residents who must use the road daily, perhaps to commute to a job in Springfield, the cost is significant. But the toll advocates fail to appreciate the great sense of freedom a tourist experiences on the superb toll-free highways out West: Arizona, Colorado. Utah in particular. There is a positive impact where tolls are absent. Massachusetts forgoes this subtle incentive to tourists.

Finally, look at the mental state revealed by one of the arguments put forth by toll advocates: "Most of the money will be collected from visitors."

Welcome to Taxachusetts!




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