What about toll roads?

I’m currently at the rest stop on the Ohio Turnpike’s mile marker 197 (thanks to the yummy goodness of wi-fi), and I got to thinking…

Why don’t we have toll roads?

Seems like all the other sane states have them. Not only that, but they seem to work REALLY well. My wife is from Pittsburgh, so I’ve done this drive from Detroit to the Burgh and back about 150 times. Since we started dating in 1990, this road has tripled the number of exits, revamped its rest stops into really clean, quality facilities, and rarely do they have construction clogging up the flow of traffic. The speeds are quick, and the Police let the flow run fairly. Both the Pennsylvania and Ohio Turnpikes are a joy to drive. Period.

Does this sound like any highway in Michigan?

So, what is it that scares our state about toll roads? Wouldn’t YOU pay more for the things I described above? Although the costs might be prohibitive on a daily commute basis, I think this is a solid model of how to do things right.

Back in the D in a few hours (anyone know how to get a stand-up piano out of a full-size van? Getting it in was nearly impossible…)

12 Comments so far

  1. Rick (unregistered) on August 7th, 2005 @ 2:09 pm

    We don’t have toll roads in Michigan because our gas taxes are higher. If we start having tolls, then we will be paying twice for the same thing.

  2. Bobby (aka UrbanTiki) (unregistered) on August 7th, 2005 @ 4:02 pm

    I don’t disagree, Rick, but why not try it? I mean, what do the gas taxes go to? Let’s be honest, here — MDOT clearly has issues.

    And for that matter, not all the roads would be toll; make just 696, or make the Lodge toll. SOMETHING. I mean, summers around here are nothing but orange barrels. It sucks.

  3. Rick (unregistered) on August 7th, 2005 @ 9:59 pm


    Who do you think gets the money from the tolls…???

  4. Bobby (aka UrbanTiki) (unregistered) on August 8th, 2005 @ 12:12 am

    Rick, I’m proposing that the funds gathered by toll roads go directly and only toward the upkeep of that road. Right now, if I have it right, the gas tax funds go toward all roads in general, and is divided up not be need to by gross weight on the roads, but more equal distribution.

    Now, wouldn’t it be nice to have a drivable road in this city?

  5. Rick (unregistered) on August 8th, 2005 @ 8:34 am

    If the gas taxes were reduced an equal amount to offset the new tolls I would support that idea.

  6. Steven (unregistered) on August 8th, 2005 @ 10:19 am

    We don’t have toll roads because we want to encourage tourism, not discourage it.

    You’ll notice toll roads in states that everyone goes through to get to their destinations, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennslyvania.

    You’ll also notice that destination states on the boarder with canada and mexico don’t have toll roads.

    And they’re bad for the environment, (all the needless stopping and starting), and they’re tougher on your brakes, and they make traffic congestion worse. Think about I-75 north Friday’s after work, now throw in toll roads.

    I’d rather pay for it in gas tax because my car gets excellent gas milage.

    Finally you’d have to build toll plazas and pay scads of people to sit in the.

    Take it from a lifetime Michigan resident, it’s a bad idea.

  7. MGal (unregistered) on August 8th, 2005 @ 10:38 am

    They have toll roads in Maine and all over New England. Yea it can be a pain over holiday weekends but overall, the money is well worth it. Besides, locals know their ways around the tolls and it is fun sticking it to the out of staters.

    I wouldn’t link tourism with tolls because New England is a destination area and you’ll find many a toll road there.

  8. girl.in.the.d (unregistered) on August 8th, 2005 @ 6:17 pm

    If you’re driving into NYC, you must pay a toll to get there – New York City has the highest tourism rate in the country.

    NYC is also a destination state on the border with Canada and does have toll roads.

  9. MGal (unregistered) on August 8th, 2005 @ 6:20 pm

    Let’s not talk about tolls in NY please. I am driving back to Maine in a few weeks and I dread the $10 I’ll be dropping in New York. That said, I absolutely love the rest stops in New York. I stop just because I think they are cool.

  10. AIW (unregistered) on August 9th, 2005 @ 1:08 am

    Bobby, I agree the Ohio Turnpike (as well as the PA Turnpike) are some of the finest roads I have driven.

    Another bonus of toll roads is the lighter load of trucks.

  11. Jason (unregistered) on August 10th, 2005 @ 7:12 am

    The tolls in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennslyvania drive me crazy. $10 just to get from one side to the other? When I’m headed from St. Joe out to Toledo I take 94 to Ann Arbor and 14 down, rather than the shorter route on the tolls. Oh and the Chicago tolls bite as well.

  12. WanderingMonkey (unregistered) on August 10th, 2005 @ 7:33 am

    There wouldn’t have to be any starting and stopping. Toronto has a picture toll, but I think the photo toll booth idea would be shot down over here.

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