The Alternative to Regional Rail: Paying Every Time You Use Roads

For those in the Triangle who are against Regional Rail as a way to ease congestion, here is the alternative:

North Carolina officials visit Austin for toll road advice
2/23/2006 11:36 AM
By: News 8 Austin Staff

Some North Carolina transportation officials are visiting Austin this week to take a long, hard look at Texas roads. They want to see how our turnpikes are paid for.

Officials from the North Carolina Turnpike Authority say Texas has taken a "visionary approach" to funding roadways by passing some of the cost to those who drive on them. They want to take the same approach in their state.

Yes, we are looking to Texas, where the only way that they could ease traffic was to charge tolls. If we do not provide realistic public transportation, this will be our future.

This is not to say that I am against tolls in general, but I am against tolls that are placed on roads that are used by locals on their commute, which is what happened in Texas and will happen here.


Toll to enter NC in the works

This news in from Virginia in the past couple of days . . . get the story here.

Toll roads seem inevitable to me. If states around us do it, how can we resist? Isn't that how we justified our state-sponsored gambling bill passed?

I would distinguish

I would distinguish between tolls for roads used by people living in the area, who already pay taxes to keep the roads in good shape, and long distance travelers, who do not pay local taxes. Therefore, I would be for tolls on the interstate coming into and out of the state. Of course, I still think that a portion of toll money should go to alternative transportation options.

Dormant Commerce Clause

I know I've mentioned this before and I don't want to sound like a broken record, but aren't toll booths at the state lines (or that otherwise target out-of-staters) a dormant commerce clause problem? For those of you with the good sense to have not taken a course in constitutional law, the dormant commerce clause is something the Supreme Court has read into the constitution, and it results in state laws that discriminate against other states' citizens being struck down.

There's a "market participant" exception for when the state is acting as a business, but it isn't clear to me that it would apply here. Wikipedia has an article on the DCC. I'd love to hear from someone who knows more about it. My professor spent 30 minutes on it after telling us it wouldn't be on the exam (I'm not complaining about that).