Sacred Cods and Holy Mackerals

The Turnpike wakes up the Legislature
November 18, 2008, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

The Pragmatist apologizes for the absence of recent posts, but things have been quietly crazy up here beneath the Golden Dome.

To wit: we have now competing bills combating the proposed turnpike toll hikes.

Late Monday afternoon, Rep. Steven Walsh (D-Lynn) circulated a plan to freeze the proposed hiked until Dec. 31, 2009 or until the Legislature adopts a comprehensive transportation reform plan. Ya know, whatever comes first.

Not to be outdone, Rep. David Linskey (D-Natick) today is circulating a plan that would 1) eliminate tolls within Route 128, 2) freeze tunnel tolls where they are now, and 3)instead pay for Big Dig bonds with a 6-cent hike in the gas tax.

It’s interesting that a North Shore rep would be the first to address the situation. It’s not like the Metrowest Caucus hasn’t known this was coming.  Then again, it was the Metrowest Senators that helped defeat a bunch of Turnpike reforms proposed by the Republicans this past spring.

Personally, I think Linskey’s plan has some merit. The gas tax hasn’t been increased since 1991 and what on this green earth han’t increased in cost since 1991? Thanks to inflation, gas tax collections in this state are actually worth 30% less than they were in ’91. And frankly, I think its worth paying an extra $0.78 per fill-up for the Ted Williams Tunnel alone. I don’t care what anyone thinks about the Big Dig, the Ted Williams Tunnel has done wonders for anyone from the South Shore driving in and out of Logan.

However, a gas tax hike in this Howie Carr world we live in will only be palatable if its accompanied by reforms. Reforms alone won’t fix our transportation the problems, but again politics is more about  perception than reality. People will appreciate firing 75% of the tolltakers even it fixes just 20% of the problem.

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