North Carolina’s Toll Road


I’ve long been an opponent of toll based funding of our public roads, highways and bridges.  However, as I’ve been enjoying my Libertarian blossoming, I have come to embrace the idea.  And mainly for two reasons:

  1. The closer we can get to real use based funding, the better our roads will be funded.  Those that use the road more will end up paying for that road.  Big corporation drives trucks over our publicly funded freeways?  Charge those trucks for that privilege.  Don’t drive those roads but DO purchase the goods and services of those corporations?  Pay that toll through pass through costs.
  2. Tolls can easily be adjusted using technology to influence traffic patterns.  Traffic begins to choke things up at 08:00?  Reduce the toll for drivers up until 08:00.  And then increase it slightly through the rush hour until the demand goes back down.  Over time, traffic will normalize.

And so North Carolina begins its foray into toll based funding:

MORRISVILLE, N.C. — North Carolina’s first toll road is almost ready for drivers…

….

When Phase I of the toll road – a stretch of 3.4 miles between Interstate 40 at N.C. Highway 147 in Durham County south to Interstate 540 in Wake County – opens in December, it and the existing portion of N.C. Highway 540 between N.C. Highways 54 and 55 will be the Tar Heel state’s first toll road.

Drivers will have one month’s grace, and tolls will begin in January 2012.

I’m excited to see how the toll goes.  I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to recover enough money to fund these “infrastructure jobs” that the Obama administration continues to talk about.  The direct tax from tolls should be able to be easily tracked to highway funding.  This should be a no brainer.

However, I also fear that the money we normally collect for our roads will simply be diverted to other uses and that, in net, our roads will continue to be underfunded.

Sigh.

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