Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » Can a toll prevent a troll?


Disclaimer This post is to provoke thought and discussion. I am not saying I think this or that, but rather desiring to promote dialogue.

It starts with books. Many things get my head spinning, I prefer literature as my form of dialogue with people I cannot sit and have a beer with, some of these people lived centuries ago, some live today but are too far away. Ok, I enjoy other forms of media too. The book allows me to sit and ponder the ideas scripted on this canvass. It also gives a point of reference for others to come together and dissect.

One of the topics of a book I have read concerned tolls for roads. The author made some interesting points regarding their use. I have never considered his ideas on tolling and had been usually adverse to their construction and use. I figured, “Just another way for the government to continue taking money because they cannot spend money wisely enough.”

His point is quite simple. Infrastructure as such costs a lot of money. For example, the two overpasses on the loop will cost around 22 million dollars. The money to construct and buy this infrastructure will be paid for via tax payers, all of them in Texas (city, county, and state). However, many of these taxpayers will never use it. I know I will on my voyage to work and back, but I am a citizen of Victoria and it seems proper for me to pay for what I use, either by taxes (if the community wants it) or by pay-per-use of some sort. For the sake of discussion, let’s reference this “Pay-per-use.”

His next point is a little different. He looks at the use of infrastructure on the effects of communities in regards to business. He seems to say that infrastructure paves the way for large corporations to really outcompete small and local shops. How does this happen? Well take Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart’s success is dependent on the supply chain, getting products from one place to another swiftly and cheaply. The better the highways, loops, overpasses, etc. the better supply chain for this company. The problem the author notices is that Wal-Mart doesn’t have to pay for the infrastructure (what the author would see as a government subsidy favoring large corporations) which allows it to move bulk goods on the cheap. If Wal-Mart had to pay for the use of the roadway according to the amount it uses it, it probably would not be able to compete with regional and local grocery chains. The author basically says we allow the large corporations government subsidies which makes the playing field uneven for small shops. Does this make sense?

I guess these thoughts from the book jumped to mind with the recent passing of Loop 463 overpass project. What are your thoughts? Does the author make a valid point? Is it realistic to incorporate a pay-per-use method for infrastructure? Do you think this allows large corporations a better shake of the hand?