On Friday, the World’s Worst Idea gained a powerful ally.
There is a movement afoot to unleash big yellow graders from the edge of uptown to the shores of Lake Norman. Their mission would be to create a mileslong mirage, a Charlotte-to-Mooresville illusion of futuristic transportation.
They are called toll lanes, and they are the next big thing among the people who can’t figure out how to satisfy the public’s need for adequate expressways in a state that charges one of the highest fuel taxes in the nation.
Climbing on the steam roller Friday and endorsing the magical thinking of toll wizards was the Charlotte Chamber, a highly influential engine of growth in the region. Through a video posted on YouTube, the chamber parroted the bullet points being espoused by certified transportation geniuses in Raleigh who maintain:sha-zam
We are not alone in this insanity. Authorities in other Sun Belt states have stood too long in the summer sun and let their brains bake, too.
Toll lanes have sprouted where free lanes should be, and they have done the thing they were designed to do. They have let a few motorists buy their way past the clogged-up masses while manipulating the price ever upward to ensure the congestion continues.
Toll lanes remain mostly vacant along I-85 in Atlanta two years after they were installed, though they are seeing a little more business, which is encouraging operators to jerk the toll rates ever higher. Are they doing anything to relieve congestion?
Are you nuts? Of course not. It turns out, say Georgia transportation officials, that they weren’t built to relieve back-ups but to manage them. “Manage” them seems to mean that these lanes sit mostly empty so rich people can get where they’re going while riff-raff like you and me inch along.
Another great success of the Atlanta project is the financial bounty. It cost $7.4 million to pay for the electronic toll lanes in fiscal 2013 but they only brought in $5.7 million. But, hey, it’s Atlanta and it’s a world-class city. We should do what they do.
Plus, they’re going to raise the prices as soon as traffic gets worse.
Worry about us, instead. This disastrous idea is starting to get traction.