What if the place where you buy your morning coffee on the way to work raised the price of that large regular by 600 percent over the last 7 years? You’d get pretty miffed, wouldn’t you? You might even start going to another coffee shop. Well, what if going to that other shop entailed an extra half-hour of driving?
What if the cost of a gallon of gas rose 600 percent in 7 years? Politicians would be screaming foul about the profiteering and gouging by Big Oil. Heck, they did that when the price went up 5 percent.
More to the point, what if your income taxes were raised 600 percent in 7 years? I don’t care how liberal you are, you’d be demanding the head of your congressman.
Well, think of how people who live north of Boston feel. Seven years ago the toll to cross the Tobin Bridge into Boston was 50 cents. A roundtrip across the bridge had been 50 cents since 1953. okay, a slight price increase may have been understandable. But then it went up to $1 in 1997. And then up to $2 in 2001. And now they want to raise it to $3 next year.
You have to understand that there are four major ways into the city from the north (apart from driving the back streets of the surrounding towns). You can drive across the Tobin ($2 toll), drive through the Sumner Harbor Tunnel ($3), drive through the Ted Williams Harbor Tunnel ($3), or drive down Route 128 (which has plenty of rush hour traffic) and then down Route 93 (more rush hour traffic), adding about an hour to your commute. In other words, coming from the north, you have to pay to enter the city.
From the west, it’s almost as bad. There’s the Massachusetts Turnpike (several tolls with costs starting at $2 depending on where you start), or you can take Route 9 or Route 2, both small highways with stop lights.
But from the south, it’s clear sailing. There are no tolls coming into the city from the south. Yet, we’re told that all this money being raised on the backs of western and northern commuters is to pay for the Big Dig, the massive road construction project in the heart of Boston that primarily benefits drivers from ... the south.
Of course, that’s the Big Lie anyway. Much of the money raised goes to pay for the infrastructure for collecting tolls on the roads the booths sit on. In fact, one Turnpike board official has devised a plan by which to raise more money by tearing down the tolls, but selling the rights to the concessions along the Turnpike. Did politicians care? No. Because where else will they get jobs for their relatives and themselves after they leave the halls of power? Everyone knows that Massport and the Mass. Turnpike Authority are high “hackeramas.”
But I digress. Regardless of whether tolls are justified at all, is it fair to keep increasing the burden on drivers from the north of Boston? Massport says that the increase is intended to “regularize” the tolls by bringing them up to the same level as the harbor tunnel tolls. Here’s an idea: why not lower the other two tolls to bring them in line with the lower one? But then have you ever heard of a liberal who could bear the thought of decreasing the amount of money he takes out of your wallet? I didn’t think so.