I spent a fair amount of time over the holidays on the Illinois toll roads.  

When I was growing up, we paid for tolls with cash. A jar of coins stayed in the glove box so you had “exact change” to toss in the bucket as you entered the ramp. It caused me to be very conscious about what the tolls cost. Then, tolls were 15 cents or so whereas now they are over a dollar, but thanks to credit card auto-transfer and iPass it feels like less of a burden today. Open road toll plazas help you to forget that you are actually paying money, even though it is, in fact, a hefty surcharge.

But it seems to me that all roads are toll roads; it’s just that we pay for some with actual toll booths and all the others with gas taxes.  We are deluding ourselves if we believe that we drive on some roads for “free.”

I wonder if our behavior would be any different if all roads had the explicit tolls attached to them.  And if not, should we use more toll roads to fund the aging infrastructure that has such great need, but also such critical importance to our economy. 

Think about the hidden cost of driving. You are paying for roads in one way or another.  Infrastructure drives our economy; don’t pay the price of neglect.

— beth triplett

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