04 December 2011

Tolling Interstate 70

Missouri's Honorable Governor Jay Nixon recently stated that much conversation must happen before we go and create a toll road out of Interstate 70 where it passes through our state. This was reported last weekend in an AP story.

Here is my letter to the Governor related to this issue:

Dear Governor Nixon,

We are both fortunate and unfortunate to live during a time when we must face the very real economic and environmental limits of growth. This era is unfortunate because there dwell among us those sentient beings who will disproportionately bear the brunt of the changes required to sustain life on Earth. For example, rising fuel prices impact the poor more than the middle- or upper-classes. Declining quality and quantities of green space wreak havoc on environmental communities. We are in a challenging time that requires tough decisions on how and when and where we will grow our economy and our communities.

We are fortunate to live in such a time. We know what needs to be done to live more sustainable, low-impact lifestyles. One major way we can support those already living within our economic and environmental means is to encourage active transportation. Walking, bicycling and taking transit are simple ways that we can use less of our limited natural resources on transportation.

A second way we can create more a sustainable state and sustainable communities is to make car travel more pay for itself. Increased gas taxes and toll roads are real strategies available to us now.

I encourage you to lead a dialogue about what it will take to create toll roads in the Great State of Missouri. Interstate 70 - a major roadway in our state - is simultaneously in decline and poised to absorb all available local, state and federal dollars for its repair and pending-but-not-scheduled reconstruction.

You were recently quoted in an AP story: "I think clearly in the short run that’s [creating toll roads] not something we have put on the forefront, but I think longer-term planning is something that everybody across the state should always be prepared to talk about."

I applaud your interest in getting everybody in the state involved in the important discussion of whether or not we rebuild major roads as toll roads. As the leader of our state, please initiate this conversation soon and do not let it be dominated and overly influenced by those who would only oppose tolling roads based on lost revenue or inconvenience.

Auto travel needs to pay for the infrastructure it uses. The time has come to advance the conversation in our state about how can we fairly require taxpayers who use facilities (such as roads) to directly pay for their use and related impacts.

Thank you for your service,
Trevor Harris
Proud to be a Missourian

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