No Toll Roads

Period

Bob Niemeyer

January 18, 2018

I will not stand for toll roads in Oregon. Below is just an outline because the reasons against toll roads are too numerous.

  1. Tracking:
    1. The technology that is being talked about for the collecting the tolls is going to be a device that gets installed into your car. Who does the installation and who pays for this is anybody’s guess at this point in time.
    2. The tracking device, they say, will only look at when the tracking device crosses over check points on the roads.
    3. The tracking could be accomplished by a Global Positioning System (GPS) device that can be sensed as you pass by or could be used to track your car anyplace on earth.
  2. Reasoning for tolls:
    1. Need the money for roads. Same old excuse to cover wasted tax dollars on lite rail.
  3. Reasoning Against:
    1. Just because we have the technology does not mean we have to use it.
    2. Expansion of the system to collect money for where ever you go. IT WILL BE EXPANDED TO EVERYWHERE!
      1. The State will be able to know where and when you travel to any place.
      2. The State will be able to collect information on you that could be used for something other than collecting tolls. i.e. Insulated coffee cups that fit your car’s drink holder.
      3. The system will be expanded to know where and when you travel even if the State does not collect revenues outside the zones that the system was intended.
      4. The cost of expanding the system will consume the revenues that were intended for use to build the roads that were promised.
    3. Can the system be used to issue a ticket for speeding?
      1. If you pass checkpoint 1 and then pass checkpoint 2 that is 10 miles away and there is only 5 minutes between the time you pasted the two checkpoints, will the system tell the police that the you were driving at 120 mile per hour? Can that data be used to issue citations for speeding?
    4. How is the State going to collect the money?
      1. Need a bank account or credit card just to drive?
      2. Can the State destroy your life for not paying the bill on time? Take your car? Jail? Turn you into a felon and be able to take away your rights?
    5. Privacy:
      1. Do you want the State to know everything about where and when you travel?
      2. Is the state so starved for money that the information could be sold to people that would then tailor advertisement for you to get a coffee cup meant for just your car? Maybe even monogrammed.
      3. Could the information also be given the Federal Government?
    6. Virtually no guarantees that the money will not go to light rail instead:
      1. There is no way that anybody, anywhere, anytime will be able to convince me that the State will not decide that the people driving could be better served by forcing them to ride a train instead of driving.
      2. Even if this were made a Constitutional Amendment that the money will only be for roads (Oh wait, there is one), we have all seen that there is always a way around that pesky Constitution. And remember that the Oregon Legislature found a way to unconstitutionally barrow money to “Fix Our Roads” instead of going with the cash flow of the gasoline taxes as they were collected.
    7. No guarantee that the money will go to roads.
      1. Look at “Cap and Tax”. Constitutionally, the money collected at the pump should go to roads. Yet the money raised, possibly 16¢ per gallon, is somehow slated to go to the general fun.
      2. Does anybody really believe that tolls will get to the roads and not lite rail instead.
      3. $1 billion per mile for light rail. That would be far better spent on roads that follow the expansion of where the citizens of Oregon live and work.
    8. Exceptions granted. Something our Legislature loves to do:
      1. As we have all seen, there will be a push within a very short time to grant exceptions to having to pay the tolls.
      2. Usual exception for government employees.
      3. Usual exceptions for low income people would mean that everybody else would have to pay more.
      4. Could the tolls you pay wind up on Oregon Tax returns and affect your return.
      5. Exceptions can work both ways. i.e. Higher tolls for car pools or company cars or trucks.
      6. Always remember that for every exception granted, there will be a State agency with lots of State employees to keep track of and administer the exceptions. Only making sure that the money collected will not go to the roads as promised.
    9. What if you go out of state? Can the tracking be used to collect money in another state for another state?
    10. What about the congestion on all of the side streets that would result from people not wanting to pay the toll.
    11. The cost will be high.
      1. Hear some estimates of $8.00 to drive on 205 during peak hours of the mystical “Value Pricing” tolling system.
    12. Would create a new taxing authority in Oregon that would be granted the ability to increase the tolls without voter approval.
      1. Yes, our Legislature has been granting taxing authority to unelected bureaucratic entities to do the Legislature’s job of being the only taxing authority.
  4. What I favor instead:
    1. Traffic use to be measured around the State with counters that were able to sense when a car went by. That is what the little rubber tubes are you see now and then stretch across the road. Or in the case of some freeways, they looked like a short speed bump in the middle of each lane.
    2. Allocation system to return the dollars to the Counties they came from.
      1. The volume of traffic would be used to allocate the road funds as they follow the expansion of where people live.
      2. Average dollars per mile collected via gasoline taxes would then be assigned to the location of the roads being used.
    3. Take the allocation of funds out of the hands of the Legislature and into the hands of something like a “Secretary of Roads” under the Governors control.
    4. One time flat rate on the purchase of an electric car that covers the road cost for the life of the car.
      1. Drawback to this is getting the State to put these dollars someplace that would grow and pay into the road funds for the long term.
      2. Does anybody believe that could ever be done.

Bob Niemeyer

January 18, 2018

bobniemeyer.com