Are You Willing to Pay Tolls for Infrastructure Improvement?

By Eric G Braun, Senior Writer, USRW

You’re in Road Warrior Mode, traffic is good, you're making good time, ACDC’s “Highway to Hell" is filling your cabin, and those of you that still have hair, it’s blowing in the breeze. Yup, all is fine with the world.

And then, there it is, the mother of all un-planned detours is ahead of you. The bridge is out of service. Not for an accident, but for repairs.

Our nation’s infrastructure strikes again!

The above scene (with perhaps a few liberties) has been playing out for a few weeks now that drivers cannot use the Turnpike Bridge that connects the New Jersey Turnpike and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This is a major thoroughfare to the ports in Elizabeth, N.J., and to transit through to the Big Apple.

When engineers went to look at the bridge for future painting, they found critical cracks in the bridge's foundation. The bridge has been closed since January, and officials estimate it could take to at least April to complete repairs.

This is more than just an inconvenience, it has a negative impact on the economy. New routes have to be planned for, which has an impact on fuel, time, and gives us more frustration than we need.

There are over 612,000 bridges in the United States, and approximately 10% of them need repair, which means about 55,000 bridges in total are ticking time bombs.

Now we can all agree that our infrastructure is in dire need of repair.

That’s the easy part.

What do we do about it?

That part of the equation isn’t so easy.

Just who is responsible for the financial upkeep of our roads? The local, state, or federal governments, or we the people?

According to a poll by the Washington Post & ABC News, you don’t want to pay for the improvements via a toll system. The poll found that 66% of those surveyed said they would oppose a plan that would grant almost $140 Billion in tax credits to investors who put their money into roads, bridges, and transit in return for the right to impose tolls.

Perhaps those polled have the right idea in opposing the plan. There is no mention of who would regulate the tolls and any potential increases, and in turn who is responsible for repairs?

On the plus side though, it’s probably the quickest path to intervention. The government has shown by its years of neglect that they won’t be doing anything in a timely manner. In addition, jobs will be created.

It’s in the nature of business to work, it’s in the nature of politics not to work.

The loose translation means businessmen will have the details wrapped up in a week and construction begins a week from Monday. Politicians will have to pick a committee and sanction everything.

The actual question was this:

There is a proposal to offer nearly 140 billion dollars in tax cuts for private companies if they pay to build new roads, bridges, and transportation projects. The companies then could charge tolls for people to use these roads, bridges, and transportation. Do you support or oppose this proposal? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

Only 29 percent of the 1,005-people polled said they would support that plan, with 11 percent saying they backed it strongly, and another 18 percent saying they were somewhat supportive. In contrast, 44 percent said they were strongly opposed to the idea and 22 percent said they were somewhat opposed.

Now take out the ACDC disc and put in the Best of Van Halen.

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