September 2005


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Spare some change?

There was a bit of a shocker in the Oregonian today: they are laying down the paperwork for an expansion of the 217, the highway that connects I-5 to Highway 26. This stretch of road is horribly overused, and an expansion lane would be a wonderful thing. The shocker part is that they are considering putting in toll booths, and this may not be a bad idea.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Whoa there! Toll booths? Oregonians hate toll booths!” Just hear me out on this, ok?

Now, they are not planning toll booths for all lanes. There are two possibilities on the table, and neither one of these has been finalized yet. Bear in mind that these construction plans won’t even begin until 2007 at the earliest. Also bear in mind that “toll booth” should be read as “sensor that reads the transmitter fob on your dashboard.” We’re talking automated RF systems, not a funnel into which you throw quarters.

Read on to see the plans

Plan A: Install toll booths on an express lane
What this gives us is an additional lane of traffic that is pay-per-use. There wasn’t a whole lot of detail, but I am guessing that this express lane would have very few off-and-onramps, sort of a direct route between the two highways. This would be cool in my book, and I think it would help alleviate a fair amount of traffic. There have been many trips where I simply needed to get through the area, and even with the jams it was quicker than trying to navigate the surface streets.

Of course, that isn’t saying much. Beaverton sufrace streets are merely paved deer paths that don’t go anywhere. Those of us in the service industry who are often racing the clock would gladly fork out $20 a month or so for the ability to give traffic the slip.

Plan B: Install toll booths to bypass lane metering
For those that don’t know what a lane meter is, onramps around here often have two lanes with a stop light at the end that allows only one car at a time onto the freeway. This prevents bunching, and actually does allow traffic to flow a little free-er. It can be damn frustrating, though, when you then only have 200 feet or so to try and reach the speed of surrounding traffic – or when the idiots in front of you can’t.

I don’t really see this one being much of a savior, and it would probably cause more ill-will than good. Since you would have to hold the cheap lanes to allow the folks in the pay-lane go through, this might piss people off.

According to the newspaper article, there have been a fair amount of survey results against toll booth for the social factor, in that it creates a clear definition between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. Those that can’t afford the extra price may get their feelings hurt watching those better-off than they zoom through the toll lane.

Get the fuck over yourself!

I look at it this way: we’re talking about a highway that goes to a major metro suburb – a place where the grand percentage or vehicles on the road are huge SUV’s driven by soccer moms and distracted professionals that can’t remove the cell phone from their ear. Well, if they can afford the gas for that beast, then they can probably afford the toll, and that gets that stupid thing off my road and out of my way.

Works for me.

One reply to “Spare some change?”

  1. Anna Phoebe Says:

    Hello there.
    Anna Phoebe here – the TSO violinist –
    Found your site..posted a comment on it a while back! Anyway, hope to see you on the road at one of the TSO shows this year!
    Anna xx