International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Assn. Director Pat Jones isn't amused by political hacks:
Jones said opponents of toll concessions are blocking improvements to our transport networks.
"We hear many arguments today in which people take common everyday words and turn them into profanities. Good words like private, investment, foreign, profit and lease. The opponents of tolling use these perfectly good words to stand in the way of entrepreneurs and risktakers who seek to improve the performance of our transportation system by investing in our highways and seeking a legitimate return on their investment - in the tradition of American capitalism."
Tolling has historically taken on and accomplished great highway projects quite beyond the capabilities of funding through normal budgetary cycles by means of taxes, he said. It did this by creating entities that acted like businesses spreading the risk over different projects.
And it doesn't sound as if he liked Ike:
The nation's first superhighways were created by quasi-government toll authorities, but the start of major federal grants (in 1956) ended this.
"Why would anyone go to the trouble of to plan and 'sell' such (toll) projects when he federal government was giving money away?" Jones asked.
But, he said, after 50 years the gas tax collection has diminished in value so much that it has become inadequate even for sustaining let alone improving our roads. This inadequacy of the tax-and-grant system has led to "a resurgence of interest" in toll financing.
But, there's a solution:
New technologies, Jones said, offer the opportunity for earning "large amounts of money" while also providing "the tolls we need to manage our highway system more efficiently" he said in a reference to using variable tolls to maintain free flow operations. The public is willing to pay for time savings, for convenience and for accessibility so long as they get that service, and tolling can now provide that service.
Freeways provide "brownout" equivalent twice daily
The free roads, Jones said provide "the equivalent of an electrical brownout twice a day, ever day, in every major metropolitan area in this country," referring to the collapse of morning and evening peak hour traffic collapses in traffic flow from congestion.
"Tolling technologies give us the tools to manage this congestion... so that we don't spend $63 billion a year in lost wages, delays and wasted fuel."