Toll Protest The Day After

Unless you've been living under a rock I'm sure by now you are aware of the toll protest that took place in Merrimack yesterday in which protesters paid their tolls using pennies.  As expected this did cause some back ups later in the afternoon and what is believed to be political retaliation from the state government by targeting and ticketing some of those who were key in establishing the protest.

The question now is what if anything will come of it.  Clearly it has raised the question of whether tolls are fair or not to discussion as nearly every major paper in the state is discussing it as is nearly every major forum and blog site.  And most lean toward agreeing that tolls are unfair.

First let me address why tolls are unfair for those who do not understand the reason behind this protest.  The goal isn't to push off the costs of maintaining the highways onto everyone else in the state as some think... the goal was to get the cost to be distributed EQUALLY to the entire state for everyone who uses the highway.  Currently tolls are not evenly distributed so some areas such as Merrimack pay far greater amounts then areas like Nashua where you can get on and off the highway without tolls.  To get on and off the same highway in Merrimack requires a toll to be paid.  The other key issue with the tolls is they are not efficient means of collecting taxation.  Nearly 50% of the money collected by toll booths goes right back toward running the toll booth itself.  When the government seeks to collect money from the people for things such as roads, they should seek to do so in the most efficient way possible.  A method in which 50% of the money collected goes toward running the method used to collect should be abolished as it wastes money.

That said, clearly the toll protest had gotten attention it expected.  Even the Governor called Merrimack town hall seeking a meeting to avoid a lawsuit, as that is the town's next step in fighting this unfair taxation.  Based on this, yes I truly do feel the protest has accomplished what it sought to do.  It has forced the state's hand into looking at a problem it has continued to turn it's nose up at before as it only effected one region.  And I would hope the state would seek to correct a situation which taxes some higher then others simply because of their location.