Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Boycotting Toll Roads In Texas & Washington

In the picture you are not looking at an artists's rendering of a mob protesting the proposed toll on one of the bridges that may cross the un-needed flood diversion channel which is part of Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision Boondoggle.

What you are looking at in the picture is actually a protest from last weekend which occurred on the Interstate 90 floating bridge which crosses Lake Washington in Washington.

The state wants to turn this floating bridge into a toll bridge to help finance the billions of dollars worth of road construction projects taking place in Washington. I do not remember there ever being a toll on this bridge, not the current one, or the one that sank while the new one was being built.

I do remember there was a toll on the other floating bridge which crosses Lake Washington, which was lifted after enough was collected to pay for the bridge. That 520 bridge, north of the 90 bridge, is currently being replaced as part of multi-billion dollar highway construction project.

Meanwhile in Texas, down in the Austin zone, citizens with Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) started up a boycott of the Texas State Highway 130 toll road. That boycott has proved successful with traffic levels so low that it has caused a Moody's downgrade with a warning of a default if the concession company does not get more traffic on the road or restructure its debt.

Also in Texas, in my neighborhood, a big road construction project is underway, that being the I-820/I-121 upgrade, part of which is a toll road. I have not heard about any planned boycotts.

One of the many things I like about the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex zone is the ease of driving, compared to driving in the Seattle/Tacoma Western Washington Metroplex zone.

In D/FW if one finds oneself in a traffic jam there are usually multiple alternative routes, often just a multi-lane frontage road will suffice.

In the Seattle/Tacoma Western Washington Metroplex zone there are these things called hills and mountains and lakes and oceans and multiple rivers which can make getting around a traffic jam a bit challenging. I remember the last time, July 21, 2002, that I drove north from Kent, south of Seattle, to Ferndale,  near the Canadian border, a distance of about 130 miles, it took me 6 hours due to traffic jam after traffic jam, with no alternative ways north.

I had not experienced a toll road til I moved to Texas. The first time was when I drove up to Oklahoma to visit a fellow Pacific Northwest transplant in Ada. At one point I found myself needing to throw quarters in a big funnel thing so I could drive a couple dozen miles on what I think was called the Chickasaw Turnpike.

My other toll road experience in Texas was down in Houston. It was bizarre. I needed to get from the north end of town to the south end. I looked at a map and it appeared that a road I think was called the Sam Houston Tollway looked to be the the efficient route. This tollway had you paying a new toll every few miles. Like I said, bizarre.

I just remembered another toll road experience, also up in Oklahoma. This time in Tulsa. I accidentally got on a toll road where you did not pay the toll til you exited. I got off at the first exit. The toll taker felt my pain and let me return to Tulsa without paying the toll.

I think I like the idea of freeways much better than the tollway concept.....

1 comment:

CatsPaw said...

When I myself was exiled to Texas way back in your oft-cited previous century, what is now I-30 passing your 'hood was a toll road - as you no doubt know. I think the western terminus was around Oakland Boulevard. On January 1 of the following year, tolls were lifted and the tollbooths came down shortly afterwards.