Monday, June 22, 2009

What’s that toll increase for anyway?

I could use some help on a basic math problem.

If a turnpike authority takes in $56.6 million in 2008 and pays out $30 million for maintenance, salaries and services … how much would tolls need to increase to make up for the shortfall?

Yeah, their math confuses me too, but that’s precisely what’s going on in West Virginia.

In fiscal year 2008, the West Virginia Turnpike took in $26.6 million more than it paid out, yet the Parkways Authority plans on increasing tolls by 60 percent for cars and trucks during a board vote July 1.

Parkways officials say they need $238 million over the next five years to repair and replace sections of the turnpike with an emphasis on bridges. More than 100 of the turnpike’s 116 bridges are older than 25 years, and two “major” bridges are older than 50 years.

Toll increases are their way of coming up with $238 million, but there’s another way to skin that cat. If they were to stretch their improvement plan to 10 years instead of five, and stay $26.6 million ahead each year, they would have $266 million and shouldn’t need a toll increase at all.

By that rationale, the turnpike would still have $28 million left over, which could be used to cover cost inflation and wage considerations for their 394 employees.

Public input is supposedly shaping the considerations as the authority’s board plans for the July 1 vote. Let’s hope enough people weigh in to make a difference.

Back on Dec. 4, 2008, I posed similar a similar math question to turnpike officials in Pennsylvania – a question about incoming cash, outgoing expenses and what should be left over. I didn’t get a direct answer on that one as people seemed perplexed that there would actually be money left over.

To me, if any quasi-government entity is already taking in more than it pays out, there’s no justification for a toll increase beyond the rate of inflation.


  1. They use tolls to supplement their general funds which is a direct violation of what the founders meant by "restraint of trade." Under the Articles of Confederation, states collected duties at their borders, and stopping this was what the founders had in mind.
    This is a good example of how we have changed from laws based on a constitution to one based on common law.

  2. Ahhh the government with their hidden agenda's. What to do when their pet projects falter? Of course, we all know the answer to that. Find another underhanded way to make the American people pay for it.That has become the American way these days. We have to learn to budget and I think it is high time the governments of America are stopped being allowed all this behind closed door dealings. This will only get worse.
    Carol Edwards

  3. I am 67 years old. I grew up in the "old school" days. Eve n back then government was doing what it is doing today. And it will continue to do so. Until the people of this country get their collective heads out of the collective sand and start VOTING these money grabbers OUT OF OFFICE. I drove truck for 8 years (2000-08) and I voted every chance I got. Some of the issues (and candidates) that I voted for didn't make it, some that I voted against did. That doesn't stop me from voting. If you give up just because you loose a few fights, then you will NEVER win, and it will be your responsibility to accept what ever comes along WITH OUT GRIPPING OR COMPLAINING.
    They can take your guns, knives, all your weapons except one---YOUR VOTE. BVut if things continue the way they are going, pretty soon we will loose that weapon, and then we will be no better off than the countries we are trying to help.


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