Thursday, April 4, 2013

Toll Talk Turns to John Locke

The John Locke Foundation, North Carolina's leading conservative think tank, entered the toll road fray on Thursday releasing a lengthy policy analysis - Transportation Priorities for North Carolina - which included a section on toll roads and HOT lanes (Starting on Page 40).

Almost immediately the folks supporting HOT lanes latched onto that section and began circulating emails implying this document could be effective in refuting those who oppose toll lanes - at least that's what one mail forward to aShortChronicle would seem to imply.

I guess the good folks over at the JLF's Charlotte outpost - - did not get the memo that they were supposed to be supporters of tolls.  Here's what they had to say a day earlier about the proposed I-77 toll project...

That certainly doesn't sound like a glowing recommendation for I-77 tolls from JLF.  Though, the line about "powerful legislators" using their influence to get what they want does ring true in this case. See Tillis: Toll lanes or wait 20 years for I-77 widening

Incidentally, the Charlotte Observer article about the MeckGOP anti-HOT resolution referenced by the MeckDeck is the same story covered here last week.  Nice to see this important political story still has some legs and is getting coverage.

Update: John Hood, President and Chairman of the JLF, also weighed in on Thursday on toll roads in North Carolina.  Here's what he had to say about the I-77 project...

"There are other toll-road projects being considered elsewhere in the state, including some bridges on the coast and new lanes on I-77 north of Charlotte.

While I favor tolls as a useful tool for adding capacity, it isn’t suited for every job. It is possible, for example, that some of the proposed toll projects may not reduce congestion and increase safety enough to justify their construction at this time. After due diligence, the state Department of Transportation ought to defer them in favor of higher-priority projects."

While not as clear a rejection of the I-77 HOT plan as at JLF's, John Hood's criteria for not doing tolls under certain circumstances would seem to apply.  The NCDOT and its consultants are on record as saying HOT lanes do not reduce congestion, so they should look elsewhere for a real plan to solve the I-77 problem.

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