We’re moving towards more tolling

Itr’s possible that the (voting) public is begining to see what happens when there is too little money for highways and bridges. But the process moves like molasses in winter. Last week the Wall Street Journal picked up the movement in some states to pro-actively turn badly deteriorating asphalt and concrete roads back to gravel roads. Now USA Today is pointing out that states are turning to new tolls and toll plazas to find funds.

Both processes derive their momentum from severely sinking state revenues coupled with the lack of a six-year highway bill from Washington which is keeping available funds at an level inadequate to even maintain existing roads.

Both processes help address the funds shortage. But while we see the need for them don’t forget a very old rule of political thumb: reversing practices like these when times are better is no slam dunk. We are liable to see gravelled rural roads and toll booths still being created long after the economy has recovered.  Just as we will surely hear some Washington politicians telling us that since there are now less paved roads to maintain, and since there are more income-providing toll booths, states and other agencies responsible for roads ands bridges don’t really need new money as much as they used to.

Anyway, check out USA Today’s story on the states fervor to toll.