On September 3rd the Mass. state transportation agency will hold the first of two hearings to take public feedback on the plan to restore tolls to the western most section of Rt. 90, the Mass. Pike. Drivers who live and travel in the western Mass. areas will soon be again punished by tolls on the only major East-West roadway in their area. Despite the recent historic gasoline tax increase, which for the first time is now pegged to inflation, state leaders feel that the new $500 million in tax revenue will not be enough to bail out the MBTA and continue the state’s addiction to “living wage” work rules that drive up the costs of maintenance on its roadways.
Returning to the days of old when those who lived in western Mass. paid hefty tolls, despite being barely served by the Mass. public transportation system, the toll booths are going to go back up. The Telegram and Gazette reports that tolls will be re-established between West Stockbridge, exit one, and the junction of Interstate 291 at exit 6.
The current plan is for travelers who use the pike on that stretch to pay $1.75. Why that particular roadway is hit with a toll has much to do with political representation and little to do with logic. For example, there is no toll to travel the North-South Rt. 93 stretch from Braintree to Somerville. That despite incredible operating costs to the taxpayers of Mass. for that particular stretch due to leaking in the tunnels on the section that runs under the city of Boston. Nor do residents of Mass. pay any tolls to travel on the Rt. 128, Rt. 95, or Rt. 495 loops that connect Providence to Boston.
The tolls were abolished in a different era in Mass. when the state still had some semblance of two-party participation in politics.