A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Let's think again.

The Turnpork Authority isn't just upsetting its customers with its persistent refusal and failure to pay for more affordable transportation choices, like commuter buses and the Downeaster. It's also stirred up a bees nest of controversy with its proposal to pave about twelve acres of rural York countryside in order to build a new toll plaza. Here's the website for the grassroots opposition group, which calls itself "Think Again."

Here's my question, though: do we need a York toll plaza at all?

Why can't we consolidate the Maine Turnpike's toll booth in Wells with the New Hampshire toll booth in Hampton, with a joint operating and revenue-sharing agreement? Instead of having motorists stop twice to pay $1.50 in NH, then another $1.75 fifteen miles away in York, have them stop only once to pay a single $3.25 toll in Hampton, and have the two agencies split the revenue as though they'd each collected it separately.

Get rid of the summer weekend traffic jams in York County altogether. Pay for half as many toll-collectors and half the maintenance costs of a toll plaza. Satisfy the neighbors in York County AND satisfy your customers with fewer toll stops AND save money on reduced operations costs.

As far as I can tell the only reasons that the Turnpork Authority wouldn't like this idea are

  • a) because it came from a blogger who refers to their ridiculously out-of-touch bureaucracy as the "Turnpork Authority," and

  • b) because upgrading the Hampton tolls instead of building a new plaza in York would prevent the Authority from slinging their pork around to their buddies in Maine's highway contracting businesses.
But these reasons seem even more petty when you compare them with the alternatives, which involve eminent domain, a lot of ill will, and higher transportation costs for many of Maine's visitors, commuters, and freight shippers.

How about it?

1 comment:

Avery Yale Kamila said...

Great idea! Maybe with high gas prices causing people to drive less (causing the Turnpike revenue to decline), they'll be forced to think like it's 2008 instead of 1958. We can only hope.