Monday, December 15, 2008

Till the Last Toll

Went to the Lynn Turnpike hearing tonight. There were so many people, so much anger, I almost felt bad for the membership of the Turnpike Authority. Almost.

The thing is, these people hold a lot of influence - if they want to, anyway. The legislature often does what's asked of them by whomever is perceived to be the authority on that subject. How could they not? For example, when the Secretary of State said no to same-day voter registration, what is a no-brainer then stalled in the state house and hasn't quite gained enough traction on Beacon Hill to pass again all these years later. If, for example, the Turnpike Authority had decided to publicly ask for major transportation reform that's good for the people of this state and tore down the tolls, then it would pass in the State House in a New York minute.

So, no pity. They've created this mess; they've avoided real solutions for years; they've allowed their agency to exist behind a curtain. This wrath is all their own.

So the big movement in this state will be to "tear down those tolls," channeling the voice of one of my least-favorite Presidents as he had one of his few good quotes. It's long since time that the working people of the many struggling North Shore cities and towns have the same opportunity to succeed and survive as people from other parts of the state. A $1800/year extra tax to get through a tunnel when others don't have to pay it is not equal opportunity or social justice for a region of the state that has suffered as the rest of the state has boomed.

The pure anger in the North Shore and Metro West will fuel reform, because people are going to park their cars on the road before they pay $7 to pass the Sumner. This genie the Turnpike Authority let out of the lamp isn't going back in, not until the last toll is gone.


Anonymous said...

Social justice for an area of the state that hasn't boomed like the rest of the state, check out Springfield. The people out west shouldn't pay for your free access to Boston through overpriced tunnels and bridges. And don't bring up free use of the Western Pike, it's not comparable. A lot of people use "free" Rt 20 that runs parallel.

Daniel said...

Also Sprach Anonymoustra.

Ryan said...

No, Anon, the people of Massachusetts should collectively fund the needs of Massachusetts. Springfield should absolutely help pay, as we should completely and totally fund a train that links Springfield to Hartford. You advocate for a system where tiny areas pay for all their needs - and thus, pay for nothing, since they couldn't afford to build it themselves.

I advocate for sharing responsibility and funding important projects as a Commonwealth, because what helps people in the North Shore helps people in Springfield and what helps people in Springfield helps people in the North Shore. This is how we achieve growth and make areas home to thousands of new businesses and families. A train from Hartford to Springfield would really help make the city boom again - and I think we should get it done within 10 years tops. We should also invest for a train linking New Bedford to Boston and Providence and better public transit in Worcester. This is the way forward for this state.

Anonymous said...

This taxpayer in the 'burbs is paying to educate the youth of Springfield. I want my money back!

Anonymous said...

Then why do most people everywhere follow the system where if you want to use a bridge you pay a toll. Tappanzee, Newport, Cheasapeke, when I go to Sanibel Island I pay $7. Not every little bridge, but major infrastructure expenditures should be have the people who benefit the most, the users contribute. Do you think your tolls pay for it, only a small portion. I'm still contributing so collectively WE are still paying for it.

Ryan said...

"Then why do most people everywhere follow the system where if you want to use a bridge you pay a toll."

Err. Wrong.

A tiny sliver of a minority have tolls, usually only into the big cities or a pike system. I wouldn't be surprised if 999 or every 1000 bridges in Massachusetts don't have tolls.

Tolls are the least progressive tax available. Not good policy.

Anonymous said...

Read it again "Not every little bridge, but major infrastructure expenditures" I was comparing the use of tolls around Boston to the use of (for ex) the Newport Bridge. If you don't want to use it drive around.

Anonymous said...

"I advocate for sharing responsibility and funding important projects as a Commonwealth, because what helps people in the North Shore helps people in Springfield" Ryan look at the development of Quabbin and Wachusett resevoirs. We in central Mass have already sacrificed quite a bit for Boston and your surrounding towns. We still have limited economic development of the areas surrounding those resevoirs so we won't spoil Boston's water. Quite an infrastructure sacrifice I would say. What has Boston done for us that's comparable?

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