We just tackled the arguments against, but what are the benefits?
Dallas has reported that toll roads have brought in $80 billion to the local economy. How is this bad for anyone? Every city in America would love to see that kind of increase. It’s attractive to companies to place their headquarters or major office in these cities because their employees can easily live in the area of the city they want and commute quickly to their job.
Development tends to follow roads, again look at 183A and you’ll find a number of developments that may have happened anyways, but are more attractive to developers to do immediately. Development equals jobs, new home construction and sales which seem to be something pointed to often of late as an indicator of a thriving or falling economy.
Time saves money
The entire reason they exist is that people would be willing to pay money to not sit in traffic and if you asked me on the right day, I’d do the same on I-35. Toll roads get people moving to their destination quicker and relieve traffic even for free roads. So even if you choose not to pay for it, you’re benefitting because of less traffic on the road you are used to driving. Toll roads are also constructed faster than typical state highway construction meaning solutions to traffic come faster. Faster construction saves money too.
Toll roads enhance the transportation network of any major city while benefitting all involved. People who fight against them are usually fighting development at the end of the day and developments will find a way to come to an area with or without the road. If you don’t believe me, look at New Braunfels along SH 46.
So there you have it. Better for everyone. I know you are all convinced.
The last 2 days, we’ve discussed why Toll Roads are better for everyone. Here’s the last myth and then we’ll discuss some benefits.
Myth # 3: Why not raise the Gas Tax? That will solve the budget shortfall.
The third misunderstanding and a suggested alternative to the others where people say just raise the gas tax either a certain amount or a percentage of the current gas price. This actually puts the burden onto the poor forcing them to pay more for roads when they could drive on an updated version of their current road for free with less traffic since people will take the toll road to save time. Besides, why would you want to give more money to a state agency who has proved it can’t manage a budget, even double counting $1 billion?
The 2nd half of the third misunderstanding is the gas tax is currently being pulled to serve other agencies within the government minimizing the effect of the gas tax anyways. In addition, rising right-of-way land costs & construction costs add to the burden on the current and any future additional gas tax. If you want this changed, contact your local states representative. Last session legislation proposed changes, but it was voted down and you’ll have to wait ‘til 2011 for it to be addressed again. Until the gas tax is used only for roads, this option should not be considered.
Toll roads actually benefit the gas tax because additional access, roadway construction and every aspect of that construction gets paid for by the toll road financing, which removes the burden from the gas tax freeing up that money for other roads. In essence, it’s as if the gas tax was increased as a result because it’s ability to effect change has been increased as the burden has been removed from it.
So those are the three myths of toll roads and later today, I’ll point out a few major benefits.
Yesterday I started an explanation of why I think toll roads are good for everyone. The myth we tackled yesterday was that it was double taxation. You are NOT paying twice to drive a toll road. Let’s move on before the a Anti-Toll Party hunts me down.
Myth # 2: It puts an added burden on the poor.
The second myth is they put an added burden on the poor or don’t provide the poor access. This frankly doesn’t make any sense.
Legislation currently doesn’t allow for existing roads to be converted to toll-only roadways, which means current roads would become upgraded frontage roads with tolled main lanes or new tolls roads would be constructed where none exist that typically include frontage roads (see 183A here in Austin). It doesn’t change the poor’s access, and actually improves what they currently drive on while decreasing the traffic along free frontage roads.
Now I agree that sometimes those lights along the roads seem to be timed terribly which a conspiracy theorist can say is by design to get people to take the toll road, but I think it just shows poor work done by the City in timing the lights, especially the one at Toll Road Loop 1 and Howard Ln. It’s horrendous. And by the way, your city designs the majority of the traffic signal timing, we can’t fully blame TxDOT for that.
The 2nd half of this myth doesn’t follow as well since the poor can choose whether or not to drive the main lanes and pay the tolls. It’s designed to be a choice payment. You pay it if you want to, but don’t have to. Studies have shown that the majority of toll users are in the upper echelon of money-makers, so the case could be made that the burden falls upon the rich who choose to take it, but they are much less fun to defend and fight for.
How does the poor benefit?
No additional money is required of them except what they choose to pay.
The existing roads they use become upgraded roadways as a result and traffic decreases along their daily commute.
Their access is actually upgraded as a result.