Bill could mean tolls on more highways inside 128, oh, and on 128, too

The Herald reports state Sen. Thomas McGee of Lynn has filed a bill to add tolls to I-93 in Boston, 128/95, Rte. 1 from Dedham to Peabody and Rte. 2 between 128 and Alewife - with the tolls going to transportation maintenance, including on the T.

S.1959 - the bill in question.



Free tagging: 



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Long overdue.

Sounds great. Its about time

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Sounds great. Its about time that the people who use roads start paying for them.

I was recently in Oslo and they have expensive tolls to enter the city. In return they get big projects like long tunnels and excellent public transit. They also have barely any traffic in the city. Some areas are car free and eventually the whole city center will have no cars. Its so pleasant, safe and quiet. You get what you pay for.

tax on vehicle fuel

If the vehicle uses gasoline and diesel. There are strong indications that more vehicles will be moving away from that.

That's nice

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Doesn't even begin to cover the full cost of maintaining roadways.

Keep on dreaming, tho

Fuel Tax

Raising the Gas tax would be a good way to fund public transportation, encourage cleaner vehicles, and reduce the amount of money given to hostile counties. No brainer.

We tried that

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But the self-centered idiotic voters of this state shot it down.

Don't Take This The Wrong Way

I voted against it specifically because of the waste of money that is spent on loafers (not you) in your building.

Watching people come down from upstairs and take naps in the old T library on the second floor pissed me off to no ends.

Watching sign holders with no transportation experience get together from their desks in your building for a grip and grin pissed me off to no ends.

Now seeing former toll takers from the Pike getting rounded back to your building for jobs they are not qualified for pisses me off now.

Watching MassDOT and my own town's public works department ignore certain intersections because they don't like each other pisses me off.

Watching MassDOT "study" the need to vacate the Wang Building during one of the greatest building upcycles in this city's history pisses me off.

Sorry, but after the Big Dig I can't turn over more money to the state willy nilly for more friends of Senator Pacheco to get on at MassDOT while idiotic land destroying bridge replacement projects on Route 3 get done poorly.

I agree with your points.

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Just look at what I've been saying about the "Fare is Fair" nonsense.

In this case however, the gas tax should be directly tied to the per gallon price, similar to how the sales tax is applied to other products. The Legislature recognized the wisdom of this approach, but were overruled by voters who were brainwashed into believing this was somehow unfair.

Now we're back to forcing our lawmakers to debate and argue - and add all their pet projects to the legislation - every time the gas tax needs to be raised.

So far as the gas tax - the

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So far as the gas tax - the fundamental problem with the recent proposal was the "indexing" feature (or whatever they called it). Setting the rate to change (probably going up most years) without any future action needed was an attempt by legislators to insulate themselves from criticism for increases in future years. You know - "It wasn't my choice, the tax went up this because indexing".

In fact, it was a dereliction of their responsibility to evaluate actual conditions and make specific proposals.

Changing the tax (rate) may or may not have been a good or necessary idea, and I may or may not have supported a specific proposal to change - but it is by definition their job to make that specific proposal.

Still trying to figure out what is

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so wrong with taxing gasoline at a percentage of the purchase price. Sales tax is based on a percentage of the purchase price. Excise and property taxes are based on a percentage of the value of the property being taxed. Your income tax is based on a percentage of your income.

But I guess taxing gasoline the same way would make too much sense. After all, this is a state that worships low number license plates and refuses to acknowledge a route designation that was formally adopted 43 years ago.

Revenue ends up being too variable

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Taxing gasoline as a percentage of the purchase price can end up creating wild swings in revenue given that the price of oil and refined products tend to fluctuate quite a bit more than most other consumer products, property values, or even individual incomes, in aggregate. If the state budgets for highway construction and maintenance with an assumption that tax revenue is based on a gas price of $2/gallon and instead the price is $3/gallon, everything is hunky-dory. But if they budget for $4/gallon and the price is $2/gallon there's a huge shortfall.

Miles driven (and thus the number of gallons purchased) doesn't vary quite as much so it's possible to predict tax revenue within a few percent when the tax is based on the per-gallon price.

And, FWIW, using 128 as shorthand for the Yankee Division Highway does make some sense in that I-95 in Massachusetts comprises quite a bit more than a partial beltway around Boston. Is Brockton "inside" or "outside" I-95? How about Danvers? Maybe we should call it the "Perimeter" like they do in Atlanta?

But you're forgetting that

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But you're forgetting that most maintenance expenses also vary with the price of oil. One of the single most expensive pay items on any MassDOT project is asphalt, which is a refined oil product. The cost of running heavy equipment also varies with fuel prices.

Gas tax as a percentage of the purchase price may not be perfect, but it's still a lot better than a flat dollar amount, if only because having a flat amount requires the legislature to raise it to keep pace with inflation, which is politically unpopular and not likely to happen. As you allude to, VMT would be the most "fair" way, but again, it's politically unpopular.

If over/under-budgeting is such a concern though, it would be fairly simple to word the law to account for this. For example, you could require MassDOT to budget based on the previous year's prices, and guarantee that revenue out of the state's general fund in the event of a shortfall. Or you could require the state to invest any revenue in excess of the previous year's into a fund to insure against future shortfalls.

They weren't going to keep

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They weren't going to keep raising the rate aka percentage. They were going to set the actual $ cost to raise, by making the gas tax a certain percent of the overall cost. As of right now it's a flat pennies amount no matter what the cost of gas is. Which means, effectively, it's now going down each year

You were here during "save our roads and bridges too"

And what happened to that money? Into the state's general fund coffers with the rest to be parceled out on the whim of the Great and General Court.

MA doesn't have meaningful linkage like other states. If we did, more people would have gotten over the earlier roads/bridges referendum that couldn't be spent on roads and bridges, and may have gone for it.

Metrowest drivers pay more

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Metrowest drivers pay more and would be thrilled to see people living north and south start paying for the Big Dig.

Apart from vague "externalized costs"

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State budget numbers don't back up this contention.

The state's FY2017 line item for MassDOT was $608 million (and $270 million of that went to the T and other transit authorities). FY2017 motor fuels tax revenues amounted to $769 million, and sales taxes imposed on motor vehicles were $853 million.

Sure, local property taxes pay for city/town streets, but then city streets in acceptable condition are one of the things we expect in return for those taxes.

Even if one wants to talk of externalities, there are many benefits to society of streets, roads, bridges, highways -- like access for public vehicles (police, fire, EMS, school buses), lower distribution costs, enabling industries like tourism, etc.

Externalized costs are not "vague"

They include air pollution (you can download BenMAP if you want to evaluate that), emergency services (also simple to valuate) for starters.

Then there is the cost of physical inactivity, which is less of an issue in our area but a huge factor in ill health in many parts of the country.

That's just a start - but the lion's share of the cost of the impacts of driving.

Oh, then there are the costs of climate change. Not vague, perhaps difficult to calculate, but extremely real and costly.

Here's a good paper to help you out with the non-vague estimations:

Congestion charges will

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Congestion charges will result in commuter heavy companies moving out to office parks in the burbs where their employees don't complain about commuting costs.

These charges only work in cities where sprawl developments at the outskirts aren't possible. That's common in Europe and Asia where land use controls preserve greenfield sites for farming and whatnot. Not so much in the US. If anything these charges encourage sprawl in the US.

won't happen

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Congestion charges will result in commuter heavy companies moving out to office parks in the burbs where their employees don't complain about commuting costs.

Top talent wants to be in a city.

Tell that to Apple with their

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Tell that to Apple with their spaceship office park.

Some people love cities. Some people hate cities. Trying to force the entire public into one camp or the other regardless of their preference is a recipe for failure.

Not addressing the impacts of combustion

Is an absolutely certain recipe for disaster.

I guess we will pry your overheated dead hands off the steering wheel? Eh, probably not if none of us are left to do it in a couple centuries.

On Oslo

Did you notice while you were there that it was only the well off people who were driving around? I noticed that when I was there. It was all 6 series BMWs, large Audis and Volvos.

There are not too many 12 year old Kias with busted windshields there. That means only the rich can drive.

Yes, the train to the airport is fantastic. It is the equivalent of having your main airport in Mansfield or Stow and you are in South Station in 20 minutes.

The subway service is average as is the bus service. Oslo is like SF if it was oil money instead of computer money, except they got rid of the working class cities and towns of the East Bay.

They even regulate how close panhandlers can be to each other. Sorry, that is too much regulation for me. Walk up the main pedestrian street. The panhandlers are evenly spread out. I like a little freedom in my life.

If we are going to have more tolls put them at the intersection of 93 and 293 in Methuen and at 495 and 95 in Salisbury. Tax NH to death for using our roads. They do it to us.

How about ...

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You abandon anecdata and conclusion jumping and go right to the statistics on income and car ownership in Sweden?

Makes for more solid arguments - unless, of course, your vision is selective and your guessing is faulty.

(hint: Sweden has social classes, but not the extremes we have here)

Oslo Is In Norway

Not Sweden. Point refuted.

Sweden does not have the oil money that Norway has. It is like comparing Brookline to Wellesley. Sure there are many similarities but also a lot of differences.

European cars in Europe?!?!

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Gasp! They must all be loaded!
I never see Lincolns, Cadillacs, or Chryslers rolling around THIS blue collar town, no-no, we are all plebes in Boston!

"Only the rich can drive?"

That means only the rich can drive.

Driving is incredibly expensive. Here in the USA, a lot of the indirect costs of driving are borne not by the driver but by the public at large -- effectively a subsidy. If we were to make drivers pay what it actually costs to drive, then only the rich could afford to drive here, too.

"Rich" is highly relative.

The GINI is a measure of income distribution within a country. A lower GINI means lower inequality of income distribution. A higher GINI means that income disparities are more pronounced.

GINI for Norway: 26.8
GINI for the US: 45.0

In other words, "rich" people in Norway don't have incomes much different from "middle income" people. "Rich" is an effectively very large group.

In the US? We are catching up with developing world dictatorships when it comes to income inequality. Rich = damn few people.


This isn't Oslo

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And Sen Thomas McGee (Kleptocrat, Lynn) isn't Thor Heyerdahl.

Do you seriously believe that revenue generated by these tolls will actually go to improving the public infrastructure? Don't you know how many brothers in law these guys have to support?

NYC has some pretty high

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NYC has some pretty high tolls, and a big chunk of them pay for mass transit. But they're still stuck with a transit system pretty similar to how it was in 1933.

And there's still a whole lot of traffic -- way more than here. Just compare the LIE at 11 pm with the Pike at 8 pm.

You can add tolls, but that doesn't magically guarantee a shift to transit. You also need to make transit fast and convenient for the places people want to go today.

But they're still stuck with

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But they're still stuck with a transit system pretty similar to how it was in 1933.

Yeah! I was there last weekend and had the same thought while I was out for a ride on the 6th Avenue El.

Is this money actually going

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Is this money actually going to real maintenance or will it go to debt service, pension obligations, etc?

Those are also costs of transportation

Or do you think that we should use prison conscripts and robot zombies to do all the road work? Do you really think that your modern driving lifestyle is possible without debt service?

If so, I've got some prime Florida waterfront land to sell you ... the waves come right up!

Your comment seems unfair...

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Your comment seems unfair... anon didn't say they wanted NO money to go towards those items.

You have to admit, the T pays its workers well, and on the other hand it isn't exactly falling over itself to throw money at actual on-going problems that often cause service delays. Signal problems, anyone?

Pension obligations

Pension obligations aren't really a cost of transportation, they are a cost of the previous generation of managers having made promises without having allocated the funds to pay for them, in effect having borrowed without authorization to do so. They incurred debt for which we are now on the hook.

So seems like a good idea

But how much would that divert traffic on to local streets.
I use route 2 and ya, I should pay my share. But there are a lot of alternatives (albeit, not suited for heavy use) to route 2 and I bet if a toll went in there would be more traffic on alternative routes.

The thing about the Tobin and harbor tunnels is that there is no good alternative. And the pike tolls aren't as easy to circumvent as say a route 2 toll. 93 and 128 probably already promote use of alternative routes as they are so heavily used.

One of the goals of the toll is to reduce car usage for those roads, but instead of cutting down on cars entering the city, it might increase the number of cars on other roads.

The article mentions

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The article mentions congestion pricing.

The idea of that would be to alleviate peak period jams by pricing to discourage travel at that time and encourage other times.

For a lot of people, that just won't work. Their jobs are at certain times. Even if their job would change their times, their kids' school and childcare is built into the current times, so they can't change.

So, it might succeed in moving a little traffic (especially trucks) to off-peak. The trouble with that is all that highway maintenance these tolls would supposedly fund. I've got friends who work for DOT contractors. They're out at night because that's the only time traffic is light enough to close two or three lanes of a highway - and it already gets unsafe at 4:30 AM - 5 AM when they're trying to pick up from a night of paving or painting or something and you've got people trying to beat the morning jams going by at 70 mph. If you successfully shift traffic out of the peak times, you have to be shifting it TO someplace - this 4:30 AM problem will get worse and creep earlier, cutting down on the available safe time for road work.

Also, metro Boston isn't like metro New York. There aren't parallel highways or bridges conveniently just a mile away, so you can completely (or even mostly) close one for work for a few hours. In some cases, there are NO good alternate routes. So, less work will get done at night because more lanes/roads need to stay open for this diverted traffic.

Congestion pricing is regressive taxation

If you're high enough on the corporate foodchain that you can time your hours to avoid commuting during times when it's in effect, or can work from home, you can avoid paying it.

If you have a lower level job that requires you to be at a desk in a specific place at a specific time, and your boss says "Be here on the dot of 9:00 or you're fired," you're stuck paying it.

If your response is to say "Well they should just take public transit," then you have failed to notice that, in the Boston area, only the very wealthy can live where public transit is at all convenient. Mere mortals have to live where it's inconvenient to take public transit, with things like buses that run once an hour, two or more changes required to get from home to work, and so on. A commute that takes an hour in a car can turn into two or more on public transport.

It is a fee

It isn't a tax.

It simply incorporates supply and demand into road use pricing. Just like some electric suppliers and water/sewer purveyors charge more during high demand times to get people to shift their usage.

"INSIDE 128"




Rt. 128 vs I-95: why it matters

Rt. 128 is a state road. I-95 is a so-called freeway and a federal road.

MA could dump tolls on Rt. 128 if it cared to. Not sure (see below) that tolls are legit on Fed Interstate Roads just yet.

Point of Info: The MassPike is grandfathered

I suppose, technically

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the road is a "concurrency" carrying both I-95 and MA-128 together for the vast majority of 128's path. The two diverge north of Peabody.

Yes, a concurrency

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A needless one at this point, given that the exit numbers, mileposts, and green directional signs between Canton and Peabody reference I-95.

But hey, can we help it if people, including those who should know better - cough - traffic reporters- cough- are still stuck in 1972.

What in the Wide, Wide World of Sports??

Yes, a concurrency

Did Roadman just concede that "Route 128" is a (not THE) legitimate designation for the circumferential highway that surrounds Boston from Braintree to Peabody?

I'm gonna have to pick my jaw up off the floor.

The mainline between Canton and Peabody

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still has both I-95 and MA 128 markers. As MassDOT has not yet given instructions for the MA 128 markers to be removed, it is still a concurrency, no matter how unnecessary it may be.

Hope your jaw heals soon.

Oh, and does the bill include a provision to re-name I-95/128 between Canton and Peabody as the LePeotmane Thruway?

Would they actually be able

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Would they actually be able to put a toll on I-93 and I-95? If they were built with federal highway money, could they charge to use it?

If they could, wouldn't the Feds just say "Oh, good - that's 30 (60, 90, whatever...) less miles of interstate we need to pay you Federal money for projects since you have your own source now."? Can't have it both ways.

Some state legislator

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Some state legislator proposes this every year, and it's always quickly shot down, usually by the federal government, because hey, guess who paid to build these roads?

It's essentially illegal to toll existing interstate highways, which is what's tripped up the state's previous attempts.

Theoretically, depending on historical funding sources, the state could toll route 1 or route 2, but if federal money were previously used for improvements to these roads, it may have to be paid back (don't forget, the route 1 freeway from the Tobin to Copeland Circle was originally built as I-95!).

Read the article more closely

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FHWA will allow up to three states to toll existing Interstates, but only to fund capital improvements that the state could not otherwise build.

The only section of Interstate in Massachusetts that would likely meet these conditions (and I do not know the financial conditions to qualify) would be I-93 between Wilmington and Methuen, where toll revenues could be used to fund construction of a fourth lane.

Note that this FHWA program has been around for awhile - it's the same one that Pennsylvania tried (and failed) to get permission to toll I-80 under.

New Hampshire Turnpike (I-95)

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Spaulding Turnpike (Route 16), and the Everett Turnpike section of I-93 have never received Federal funds. It's one reason why drivers are afforded direct access to state liquor stores at service plazas and "safety" rest areas.

NH wanted the feds to pay for a "rest area liquor store" sign

The feds said "no" because the sign they wanted also said "liquor store".

It was a freaking huge highway-spanning sign, too.

My dad wanted to make a special pilgrimage to photograph the contested sign (late 1980s) when he was in town, and he used it in his slide shows at conferences.

New Hampshire wanted the Feds to fund

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a larger project to replace the guide signs in the general area, not just the ones for the rest area/service plaza.

FHWA told the state to remove the liquor store references from those specific signs. State refused, and paid for those signs and structures themselves ( aka "non participating" items).

And the Feds will pay for certain safety improvements on toll roads - such as new guide signs - in limited cases.

BTW Swirls - did your father ever get a picture of the old northbound Hooksett rest area, with NH Safety Rest Area and NH State Liquor Store side by side?


That's where we went. They wanted the feds to pay for the giant sign for that facility. It was ginormous!

Yes. That's a good short

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Yes. That's a good short-form explanation you linked.

Only parts of the NJ Turnpike (mostly in the northern half of the state) are Interstate-numbered (95 or 78). The 95 designation jumps off somewhere near Trenton, takes a belt road around Trenton (sharing or becoming I-295 for part of that) until crossing into PA as I-95. The Turnpike south of that point is not a numbered highway.

NJ's other toll roads don't overlap interstates. Atlantic Expressway overlaps a state highway for a bit (I think it actually changes name there to "North-South Expressway"), and the Garden State Parkway and US 9 share a couple of miles to share a bridge - but I think those areas are actually toll-free.

For NY, besides the Thruway pieces, the only other active tolls I can think of are bridges & tunnels. I can't remember if one bi-state authority parkway has or ever had tolls (Palisades). Any other NY highway tolls I vaguely remember from childhood or stories are long-gone, and were on state parkways.

Connecticut Turnpike (I-95) gave up the tolls years ago. I guess the bonds had been paid? Imagine that!

...and then, there's Mass Turnpike exit 16.

Connecticut Turnpike removed the tolls

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as a condition of receiving Federal funding to repair the Mianus River Bridge, which partially collapsed in 1983. They agreed to this condition largely in response to political pressure to remove tolls after the Stratford toll plaza tanker collision and Fire in 1982.

I remember the bridge

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I remember the bridge collapse from the news. I had forgotten they still had tolls then.

I wonder how bad things must have been - they had toll revenue but couldn't float new bonds for all the needed work?

Oh, you mean the Mass Ave

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Oh, you mean the Mass Ave Bridge!

Yeah, yeah, I know... official name.

Tell you what - once I get around to never saying "128", I'll work on calling it the John Harvard Bridge

Really, though... since the Anderson Bridge actually connects North Harvard Street, Harvard University, and Harvard Square - I'm far likelier to call that "The Harvard Bridge"

Technology Bridge

That was a popular way to not say "Harvard", as the country club is several miles up chuck river from there.

Harvard aka Mass Ave Bridge is suspended girder

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design, But actual geometry and layout of girders is much different than Mianus bridge. Mianus span that collapsed was on superelevated curve, adding stresses not accounted for by designers. Also, drain ports had been paved over, causing water overrun that prematurely corroded attachment hardware in a way that could not be easily detected during routine inspections.

Is? Or was?

The old design had a number of commonalities that nearly immediately led to inspection and restrictions.

Like the Maine Turnpike.

Maine Turnpike was built before the Eisenhower Highway system so they can charge tolls. The Maine Turnpike Authority is totally self-funded, taking no money from the state or federal taxpayers.

The Canton to Peabody section of highway

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cannot be tolled without the approval of FHWA, as it is part of Interstate 95.

And if you think that's easy to attain, just ask Pennsylvania - who tried three times to toll I-80 and were denied all three times.

Yes, Mass Pike is an Interstate (I-90). However, tolls existed before road got the Interstate designation, so they were grandfathered in.

I was just about to comment ...

"Roadman would know the answer to this ..."

I couldn't find whether there was any final resolution to various Obama Administration and now Trump Administration initiatives to allow states to toll these roads. Maybe not yet.

What has changed this whole game is electronic tolling without toll booths to snarl traffic and cause accidents, coupled with shrinking Federal Highway funding.

UPDATE: recent article - program is limited -

Trump Administration has hinted at

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relaxing the current federal restrictions on tolling Interstate highways. However, as of yet, there have been no firm proposals from either the administration or Congress.

Failing Federal action to allow the practice, tolling Interstates in Massachusetts is a very risky gamble, as we could suddenly find ourselves losing a lot of Federal highway funds.

Is it I-95 or 128 ?

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Some roads were built with Federal Highway Trust Fund money and states cannot impose tolls without waivers from the US DOT. For example, I95 south of Canton and north of Peabody.

Other roads built with state funding only - such as 128 - can become toll roads.

I90, aka the Pike, is another example.

The designation of 128 as I95 was pro forma and meant to help drivers from Florida who couldn't figure out how to get to Maine.

Every improvement made on "128" between Canton

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and Peabody since 1974, with the exception of the sound walls between Reading and Lynnfield, have been Federally funded. That was part of the agreement when I-95 was canceled through Boaton and assigned to 128 instead.

The only things FHWA grandfathered in when the I-95 designation was assigned to 128 in late 1974 were the service plazas northbound in Lexington and the southbound in Newton.

The designation of 128 as I95

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The designation of 128 as I95 was pro forma and meant to help drivers from Florida who couldn't figure out how to get to Maine.

It was probably necessary and best to post 95 west/around Boston for sake of diverting traffic that didn't need to go through downtown - best to continuing numbering.

Thanks to the belting and crossing highways, it goes against the usual numbering convention for interstates, since you end up with a lower-numbered north-south interstate being east of a higher-numbered north-south interstate (for 30+ miles)

Technically, it could have been 93 to the west and 95 to the east (but the follow-the-number traffic would've run right through downtown),

Probably best and most technically accurate would've been 95 around to the west (as was done), designate the 30+ miles via Canton-Braintree-Milton-Boston-Somerville-Stoneham a three-digit interstate (probably I-193, since it's more accurately a spur than a belt) and "begin" I-93 in Stoneham/Woburn.

Remember that Indiana was the state

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that also gave away their very profitable and generally well maintained toll road to a foreign entity in exchange for a one time cash payment.

Road is now in horrible shape as the current owner is pocketing funds, and the state is now in bad shape as they've lost a revenue stream.

Senator McGee

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Wasn't he the same person who once filed a bill to change the name of Lynn to Ocean Park? The rationale behind the bill was that all the "Lynn Lynn City of Sin" rhymes were hurting the local economy.

Not that Ocean Park would have solved the problem.

Ocean Park, Ocean Park
As dangerous by day
As it is in the dark

Disclaimer- Grew up in Lynn, but escaped in 1990)


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But it should go to the roads. Tolls and congestion pricing are much better than fuel taxes (though fuel should have some tax to handle pollution). Still, the MBTA needs to pay its own weight too. Its incredibly cheap, and most of the funding goes into absurd union pensions.

Both systems should sustain themselves independent of one another, cars should not be a piggy bank for the T which doesn't serve most people who use routes like this anyway (or does so poorly) The T is also too cheap as it is relative to transit systems in other cities, and long overdue to be fully privatized and run at a slight surplus so it can handle maintenance like the transit in countries like Japan and Hong Kong.

So I'm all for this, but those who just want to throw money into the T are incapable of self-assessing what a joke that entire agency has been for too long because discussing running public services efficiently apparently has to come with a trigger warning for people who don't understand the benefits public-private partnerships tend to bring to municipalities.

Tolling is the least

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Tolling is the least efficient manner with which to generate revenue for the roads.

Eliminate the tolls, increase the gas tax to cover, generate new use tax to cover electrics, call it a day.

Just raise the damn gas tax

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The gas tax is the fairest way to ensure everybody pays. Sure, drivers with cars which get worse gas mileage will pay more, but since they are also hurting the environment more, it's still fair.

Tax us Twice - fuel tax and tolls on the same miles

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State law allows refund of fuel excise tax for miles traveled on the Pike rather than get taxed twice. Does the Senator plan to extend it or doubly tax drivers?

Most polls show drivers willing to pay more if the money actually went to repairing and expanding roads. We can't trust them to not spend it on MBTA union pork and taking more shared travel lanes from drivers and giving them to cyclists who pay nothing.

If the bill claims to make things more fair and equitable, start by making bicycle traffic tickets cost as much as those for motor vehicles, have car insurance surcharges, and license/car suspensions if not paid. That would be fair, along with actual police enforcement. I've never seen a cop stop a cyclist at night for no headlight or running a red light.


You aren't taxed twice. You are being charged a sum total of less than 100% for your chosen mode of transport with two different charge formats. You aren't "taxed twice" if you pay sales tax and income tax, either.

Although I would love it if gas tax and tolls went away and we just paid by the mile instead. Check the odo at the yearly inspection and pay the bill.

The reason bike fines don't cost much is simple: CYCLISTS DON'T KILL PEOPLE LIKE DRIVERS IN CARS DO! Talking tens of thousands of deaths versus tens of deaths. Making your manhood shrink because you saw a guy on a bike moving faster than you isn't a valid public health outcome.

If you've never seen a cop stop a cyclist for lacking a headlight, you need to get out more. If they let you.

Remedial math and finance courses are available at your community college - but I doubt that will help you learn to have a sense of proportion.

No Surprise

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With the states push to get cars to have Easy Pass it was only a matter of time before more roads became toll roads.

Can't pass up free (unearned) money

I'm betting that because of the all-electronic tolling on the Mass Turnpike - where they can levy a heavier toll on cars without EZPass transponders - the legislators are seeing this as a golden opportunity to toll heavily congested roads and bridges - or even city streets.

It's unearned money that the legislature doesn't have to lift a finger for. If the legislators had their way, they would charge $2.50 at the BU Bridge, put transponder trees all over the Longwood Medical Area, and even charge $5 regardless of plate or transponder during Sox games or snowstorms - and with that new captive audience, that general fund (which is where this money usually ends up) gets filled up pretty quickly.