Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
Your column in Wednesday’s paper (Dennis Wyatt’s column: “Making highway rest stops safer & pay their own way along I-5”) caused me to actually maybe, possibly, change my mind.
I have been feeling indignant about how much we have to pay in this state for freeways like 580 into the Bay Area that despite the fact that it was only recently completed, are already insufficient for our traffic and deteriorating rapidly. And, little by little we are being required to almost literally pay for them twice by the existence of toll lanes and bigger and bigger trucks and more and more of them — they are much, much harder on our roads than are regular automobiles. Also I have read that our governor is considering adding more tolls to drive in the fast lanes of our (the taxpayers) freeways. So, your suggestion began to seem like an idea that would make us pay even more for our roadways.
I gave it a little thought and remembered some of the beautiful and amazing toll roads we have driven in various parts of our country. They were always well maintained with no potholes, nice landscaping and frequent rest stops with restaurants. These were commonly built across the tollway with access from both sides. We never minded the toll because traffic was always less sparse than we were used to, a pleasure to drive and at least felt quite safe. If we did not have to pay taxes to maintain our freeways, I would support your idea.
One nagging thought in my mind is having lived in California for the vast majority of my life, I have no memory of any tax being dropped so my fear is that the state would continue taxing our gasoline purchases, etc. and we would simply be continuing to give the state our usual freeway taxes plus paying a fee. Also, I do not trust California government to actually use tolls collected for our freeways. So, there should also be a law that the toll roads should be a private endeavor — that way they would have to please us, their customers, or lose our patronage.
Thank you for your creative approach to this rapidly deteriorating problem.