The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority yesterday didn’t just kill the goose that lays the golden eggs — that would be us. In raising tolls through the roof, as Noah Bierman reports in the Boston Globe, the authority buried the goose’s carcass somewhere beneath a cash-stuffed toll booth, never to be seen again. “I’m already mapping out, in my mind, alternative routes,” writes Jay Fitzgerald at Hub Blog.
Let me say right up front that the proposed toll increases would have little effect on me. I come in from the North Shore, and maybe a couple of times a year I’ll swing over to the Ted Williams Tunnel because something has gone wrong on Route 1. So I’m not looking at a $7 daily toll. But this is just nuts.
Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr is his usual irresponsible self today, writing a damn-them-all screed that doesn’t leave room for any reasonable approach to what has become a huge problem. But on his WRKO Radio (AM 680) program yesterday, he was making more sense, admitting that the state somehow has to pay off the Big Dig fiasco — and that it would be much fairer to spread the pain with an increased gas tax than with toll hikes that, in the case of MetroWest, are paid by those who don’t even use the Big Dig.
Then again, both he and Herald reporter Hillary Chabot raise the specter that we’ll get a gas-tax hike on top of the toll hike. They could be right, even though the Globe’s Bierman reports that Gov. Deval Patrick remains opposed to a gas tax.
On the other hand, the Outraged Liberal thinks yesterday’s announcement is a ruse that will lead not to a toll increase but to a boost in the gas tax. He writes:
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.)
I hope he’s right. As a Globe editorial noted earlier this week, a 4-cent increase in the state gas tax would bring in $100 million a year — exactly the amount to be raised by the toll hike.