Yup, those of us who live West of Boston are footing the bill for the Big Dig project. I don't think the I-93 drivers who live North and South of the city are thanking us. We're not martyrs, but maybe we should be.
The announcement comes to the chagrin of people like Mary Z. Connaughton, who has served on the Mass. Turnpike Authority's toll equity working group since last fall.The article noted that someone driving from Framingham to Boston during the work week could incur toll costs of $1,400.00 annually. Of course, MetroWest commuters could take the commuter rail, but it isn't an option that works for everyone. And not every commuting using the Pike is taking it all the way into downtown Boston. A lot of people have the unfortunate circumstances of working for companies located along Route 9 (TJX anyone) or 128. If you work along 128, it is either drive or try to telecommute.
Connaughton, who lives in Framingham, sees the Mass. Pike tolls as an unfair fee structure that places a disproportionate fiscal burden on MetroWest commuters. Expanding the tolls to I-93, both north and south of Boston, is a proposal she would like to see fleshed out.
Through tolls, MetroWest commuters have shouldered the brunt of projects like the Big Dig and supported Turnpike infrastructure outside of the region for too long, Connaughton said.
In a May letter to the Turnpike Authority, Paul Matthews, executive director of the Westborough-based 495/MetroWest Corridor Partnership, wrote Pike tolling options should be reviewed and tolling strategies should be developed where daily commuting cost is "more equitable from all directions."
I don't buy the North Shore's seemingly powerful or motivated reps who feel that adding tolls on I-93 would require federal approval. Why? Because, when you get to the heart of it, the Mass Pike IS a federal road. I-90 is part of the great Interstate Highway. And have these same public officials been up to New Hampshire anytime in the past 25 or so years? Guess what - as soon as you cross over into New Hampshire, on Federal roads, you hit a toll booth.
This is a good time for state reps and senators representing Central Mass and Metro West to step up and demand equal parity for transportation costs!To make matters worse, for those of us who live West of the city, in today's Mass Pike meeting the authority decided to eliminate discounts for Fast Lane users, according to WBZ. Yup, the one discount that benefited MetroWest / West drivers the most is going away. Really, the "discount" was only $.25 at the Allston-Brighton booth and $.50 at the tunnels.
Eliminating this discount will generate an extra $18 million to the cash-strapped Pike.
I suppose it could be worse - the Pike could have raised tolls across the system.
With that, I need to leave the office and drive home.