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Interstate Toll Booths - Check Points Ahead


By James Donahue

May 2005


The big spenders in Washington are getting so strapped for cash they are looking for enterprising new ways to tax the people without calling it a tax.


The latest enterprise is a proposed new $284 billion highway bill that would allow toll charges along all of the roads constructed with federal tax dollars.


This means that travelers will be encumbered with routine stops on all of the nation’s Interstate Highways and some state and local roads to pay toll fees.


It will slow down the movement of traffic, hike the cost of moving people, goods and services, and give the government well designed points with which to eventually set up those dreaded “check points” that are so familiar in fascist controlled countries.


Not only Interstate Highways, but toll booths could appear on many state and local highways since federal tax dollars are usually always filtered down into state and local coffers to help build roads.


This has been local dollars, paid through mostly gasoline taxes, that made their way into federal hands, then some of the money trickled back to local road commissions to help pay for new road construction work.


The bill, already passed by the House of Representatives and expected to go before the Senate soon, smacks in the fact of the nation’s free interstate system established in 1956. Only turnpikes that were constructed before this time can collect tolls.


People who travel know what a nuisance those occasional toll roads can be. There is always a problem figuring out how to enter a toll road, then a driver must stop to have his vehicle registered in the system. As you progress there are toll gates at every exit and entrance. The farther you travel, the higher your toll charge grows. When you leave the road, you stop at the gate to have your miles tallied and then pay the charge.


Sometimes toll roads are good ways to travel because most drivers avoid them, if at all possible. Consequently, you have clean sailing on smooth, well maintained roadway. There are usually regular stopping points for fuel, food and restrooms located along the route, so these things are not a problem.


Even at that, the concept of toll roads everywhere is not welcome news.


It means that the free and open highways of America are being taken away from us, just as are all of the other comforts of the old American system are disappearing under the threat of terrorism and a growing police state.


It is estimated that it will take about six years to get this new toll system built and operating. Once it is running, the cost of travel will be so high that few people will choose it unless the trip is absolutely necessary.


With fuel prices rising and the world fuel supplies dwindling, we can expect to help from the bus, train and airline services. If they are still operating at all in six years, they will be so costly to use that few will use them either. Most of the nation’s once intricate rail system has been torn up in recent years as shippers turn mostly to trucks. 


Traveling will be a privilege limited only for the wealthy. The rest of America will be forced to stay home and labor for the few bones they will be tossed.


Expect the cost of everything to also rise to a level that few Americans can afford much more than food and shelter. The concept of a new home filled with nice electronic gadgetry may soon be a thing of the past.


Welcome to the land of the very rich and the very poor, America. The middleclass will be a thing of the distant past.


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