Pocahontas Toll Hike: A Glimpse Of Our Future?

Today’s Times-Dispatch brings news that the tolls on Central Virginia’s premier public-private toll road, the Pocahontas Parkway, are going up again. There was a comparable increase in 2004. The chicken and egg debate over lower traffic counts and higher rates can continue, but somebody has to pay the debt. The engineering behind that flyover bridge off I-95 is breathtaking, but the economics were always questionable on this one — at least until there is a direct connection spur to the airport.

If someone uses that highway both ways everyday their cost just went up about $120 a year. Just for the sake of comparison, for a person or family who uses 1,200 gallons of gasoline a year, a ten cent increase in the state motor fuel tax would cost $120 (ten bucks a month). For a half-penny increase in the sales tax to cost a family that much, it would have to have taxable purchases of $2,000 a month — which would put them pretty high up the economic scale.

In the privately-managed, toll-based vision of our transportation future, Pocahontas and its sister toll roads will be the rule, not the exception. And that extra quarter might come at three or four places along your route.

I’m not saying which is better — taxes or tolls. (At least not for this post.) But at some point we’ve got to debate this. At some point we’ve got to ask, just how much are we willing to pay in other ways in order to maintain one of the lowest fuel tax rates in the country?

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2 responses to “Pocahontas Toll Hike: A Glimpse Of Our Future?”

  1. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Tolls are better user taxes than sales taxes. Sales taxes punish people who don’t contribute to the traffic problem.

    Everyone hates tolls. But, until we get that free lunch thing working, go with tolls for transportation.

  2. Ray Hyde Avatar

    What about sales taxes on gas? Do you consider that they punish people who don’t contribute to the traffic problem?

    Tolls are localized, and they will have the effect of sending business and traffic elsewhere, which is one way of reucing cogestion in one area – send it someplace else.

    I have a question. Who travels that does not contribute to the transportation problem? Does a guy who works at home and has all his needs delivered not contribute to the problem?

    If you live in Jepip where it is not congested, are you contributing to the problem. Or is it only a problem when all the “New People” move in?

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