Toll is (reluctantly) needed
By Jody Reese
The state is seriously considering moving the Bedford toll plaza down a few hundred feet to include the new $175 million airport access road.
Not surprisingly the Manchester Airport brass and Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas oppose moving the Bedford tolls to cover the new airport access road. They feel that adding the toll could hurt the airport and the economic engine it has become for the region.
While I sympathize with Gatsas and the airport, no toll on the new access road would actually be worse for the airport and the neighborhoods around it. It’s the little law of unintended consequences.
By offering motorists a way to avoid the tolls, more traffic will be forced across the access road and on to Brown Avenue in Manchester and South Willow Street — two roads that already have too much traffic on them.
I can’t imagine that an airport user from Massachusetts would be deterred by a $.75 charge at the tolls, They already pay it and it’s cheaper than going through the Ted Williams Tunnel to get to the Boston airport.
The other larger issue at play is the looming highway budget deficit. And while moving the tolls to take in the access road won’t solve that problem it will help a bit. The highway budget is in the hole almost a billion dollars for the next 10 years. The result is going to be higher tolls, higher gas taxes and higher registration fees.