11/27/2007

HOCKING THE TOLLWAYS: Broken promises


New Jersey's Courier news gives a brief history lesson of unaccountable Toll Roads Lies:

Politicians have touted the state's toll roads as fiscal panaceas for decades. But seldom has the wishful thinking proved true. Here is a list of the most egregious of the broken promises:

1952: No tolls. The Garden State Parkway would be toll-free when its $330 million in construction bonds was paid off around 1988, or so said proponents of the new superhighway. More than 50 years later, tolls are omnipresent. The original toll charge was 25 cents at 11 toll plazas and from 10 cents to 25 cents at exit and entrance ramps.

1997: Free E-ZPass. The new, high-tech E-ZPass toll-collection system would be so smart that it would fund itself, costing motorist nothing more in fees. The system not only would catch toll cheats, but it also would collect millions of dollars in fines, estimated to be $300 million by 2003. A 2004 State Commission of Investigation report showed that only about $15.5 million in fines had been collected by 2003, with the larger amount of revenue, more than $84 million, coming from the lease of new fiber-optic lines. The SCI report said the E-ZPass contract and award was "an administrative and financial debacle of immense proportions." E-Z Pass users are now charged $12 a year to help maintain the system.

2001: No more tolls. Gubernatorial candidates James E. McGreevey and Bret Schundler said they would eliminate roadway tolls if elected. McGreevey was elected. Tolls remain.

2003: Cost savings. McGreevey pushes through a merger of the state's major toll road authorities, the Turnpike Authority and the Highway Authority, in a move he said would "end wasteful duplication and save our taxpayers' money." Four years later, predictions of large-scale savings have not materialized. The Turnpike Authority's expense budget is $465.7 million this year, compared with the combined expense budgets for both roadways of $405 million in 2003, the year before the merger.

Wait, if toll roads are THE solution, and Jersey has them all over the place. How come they still have problems?

2 comments:

MuckrakerII said...

In honor of your work I've been posting as Muckraker. It is a precise label and means exactly what is needed in this dirty road biz.

If you could take a minute and post (or have others post on this FBN thread) it would be very much appreciated. This topic is now a very hot election issue here locally (We're on your contact list as responsible_dvlpmnt@yahoo.com, the heart of the old tom delay developer machine, the machine is still here, but delay is thankfully gone).

Please post on this thread if you can and get others too:

http://www.fortbendnow.com/news/3323/fha-txdot-to-hold-hearing-on-making-grand-parkway-segment-a-tollway#c020738

This site is blogger central in the Sugar Land/Richmond/Missouri City/Rosenberg area (Fort Bend County). It gets quite a bit of traffic...

Sal Costello said...

THE REAL MUCKRAKER SPEAKS OUT -

I've had my "Muckraker" blog for more than 2 years now. It focuses on Texas road corruption.

The person above calls himself the Muckraker (here and on other sites), and says it's in honor of my work. But, I don't think confusing some Texas folks makes any sense.