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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

For Whom the Pike Tolls

The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority has secret plan to raise the gas tax. And they unveiled it yesterday.

It will now cost west suburban commuters up to $500 a year more to use the Turnpike.

North Shore commuters could see their commuting costs jump as much as $900 a tear if they use the Sumner or Williams tunnels.

It will cost $13.85 just to park your seat inside a Boston cab at the airport before the meter starts its furious upward rise. It may be cheaper to rent a car to get to Brookline from Logan.

They will need to pay Boston traffic reporters hazardous duty pay to announce the delays on the city streets and over the Tobin Bridge. Route 9 commutes, already choked with congestion, aren't going to get better.

If you live on the South Shore though, well, have a nice day. Your trip up the nifty new I-93 through the O'Neill Tunnel and over the Zakim Bridge is courtesy of the rest of us. And if you live in Western Massachusetts, be happy this is one time Boston totally ignores you.

But there is a method to this planned madness.

The Globe notes the increases will go into place after another hearing by the Turnpike Authority in February or March. I personally would book Fenway Park as a location that could handle the crowd of angry people.

Presumably, that would be enough time for Deval Patrick and legislators to get off their, um, sidelines, and approve a comprehensive plan to tackle the transportation nightmare (hey, throw in the disaster known as the MBTA while you are at it.)

Rep. David Linsky of Natick has taken the lead in talking up the one fair solution that will pay off the Big Dig debt and fix roads and bridges in Quincy and Pittsfield -- a higher gasoline tax.

That solution was hard to stomach when gasoline topped $4 a gallon. But now that it's back down to the "reasonable" range of $2 the pain won't feel quite as bad.

And a higher gas tax isn't the only equitable solution. The technology exists today to collect tolls without putting up booths and making drivers stop. You can take some of the extra cash the comes in from the gasoline tax and create a toll collection system for the length of I-93.

And that way, the folks who benefit the most from the project that is strangling the rest of us would have to pay their fair fare too.

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