Political elites lusting for the installation of toll roads from Murphy to Manteo are having conniptions over reports that the first battery of tolls could cost commuters as much as $20 per day. Never mind that information came from internal state documents prepared in 2012. (Republican politicians from Pat McCrory, to Skip Stam, to Thom Tillis have vigorously defended the concept of toll roads as a method for financing road maintenance and construction.)
Of course, the standard defense for statists when the little people catch on to them is DENY DENY DENY:
[…] State transportation officials countered those figures Monday, saying motorists will end up paying only about $2 per trip.
“That study was finalized in 2012, but now that the project is further along, we do not anticipate rates being that high,” said DOT spokeswoman Jen Thompson. She added that she did not know the reasons for calculating the 2012 figures in the first place.
Kurt Naas, a spokesman for Widen I77, urged a delay on signing the construction contract.
“This represents an economic catastrophe for the region,” he said.
Jen: the cost projections were put in there to show what you would have to charge to PAY for this project.
WHEN have you ever seen government overestimate the cost of something, and then back off of that estimate in order to save taxpayer money? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? <crickets>. MORE:
[…] The NCDOT documents predict that Mooresville-to-Charlotte tolls will jump to at least $20 one way by 2035, according to the group.
“The numbers just don’t make sense. I don’t see how it’s a viable option,” Huntersville Commissioner Danny Phillips said. “Very few people use HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes now, and they’re free. What makes people think they will pay a toll that high to use them?”
Thompson said the $20 round-trip figure represented a driver traveling 52 miles round-trip on the full stretch of the managed lanes during the peak travel times.
“Traffic and revenue studies project a minority of motorists will use the managed lanes for that entire full-length round-trip,” Thompson said. “A more reasonable reflection of the toll cost would be in the projected average per user trip, which is in the vicinity of $2 per trip.”
Pricing tolls too high so the lanes get little use “would be counterproductive to the contractor’s goal,” Thompson said.[…]
Wow. Taking the total projected amount of revenue and dividing it evenly among the estimated number of drivers is patently dishonest. That is NOT how people are going to be assessed. I am willing to bet a huge chunk of drivers on I-77 are commuting between Mooresville and Charlotte during “peak hours” — aka morning and evening rush hours. The motive here is for this Spanish contractor to make its money back and the state to get its cut. TWO DOLLARS round trip for 50 years won’t do the job.
So, we’re not even sweating the facts that (1) EVERY project like this that has been implemented has run into huge financial problems and (2) the contractor itself has had recent financial problems?
This is being pushed because the ruling class in Raleigh claims we don’t have enough money in the DOT budget to pay for roads. Yet, we have plenty of money to pay for salaries of McCrory communication staffers. To restore confidence in state government, there needs to be a serious, forensic audit of NCDOT expenditures. Where is the money going? How is it being spent?
Have someone — other than a lying politician — give us credible evidence that transportation money is being wisely spent and we can have that discussion about how to ID new sources of revenue. I’m pretty confident that credible evidence does not exist.