Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Letters to the Editor

March 8, 2013

Keeping the tolls borders on criminal

— — There is an old saying, “Figures don’t lie, and liers don’t figure.” Not true. The lie is not in the mathematics, but in what is chosen to include in the calculation, and what is chosen to leave out. An example is plainly stated in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph article “Barr to Mercer Leaders", which notes that federal funds allocated for interstate maintenance are not so used.

The poor-mouthing by state leaders in defense of tolls is no excuse for holding the rest of America hostage for an act of kindness by the federal government in allowing the West Virginia Turnpike to be incorporated into the interstate system. The original turnpike was a three-lane road with two-lane bridges and steep grades, but if (as planned) excluded from the interstate, obviously no one would pay a toll to drive on an inferior road and bond costs could have bankrupted the state. Maintaining tolls after the bonds are payed off is beyond shameful — it borders on criminal.

  The interstate system was proposed by Eisenhower as a defense measure with economic benefits, and is one federal program that has really paid off. It now allows for rapid (and less expensive) movement of goods, equipment, and personnel throughout the country. There is no telling how many lives have been saved by evacuations using both directional lanes of interstate highway. States have traditionally governed roads, but if the interstate is too much for the states to handle, It would be simple enough to federalize them, limit them to commercial traffic, and impose tolls on the whole system. Since the consumer ultimately pays for all costs, that would at least be fair. It would cost more, though. I have no doubt that having a federal employee remove the top from a bottle of soda costs more than a dollar. We’ll all be better off if the state leaders bite the bullet

Joe Hall


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