Most of our blog posts deal with information and news, but occasionally an opportunity for satire arises that I just can’t resist.  That opportunity presented itself last night when the NCDOT gave an update to the Cornelius town board on the I-77 tolling project. A good portion of the presentation was the same justifications for tolling we’ve heard before: “giving drivers a choice”, “providing a congestion management solution” etc. With that in mind, let’s apply the NCDOT tolling logic to a different problem:

Exit 28 in Cornelius is under construction. When completed the project will have four lanes in a “diverging diamond” configuration. The diverging diamond eliminates four traffic light phases from the previous configuration, so it increases throughput by an estimated 40%.  However, right now only one lane is open in either direction so the backups are horrendous.  In the morning motorists routinely sit through three or four shifts of the light, gridlock extends to adjacent roads, and congestion on alternate routes has increased. The situation will not change until the additional lanes are open sometime later this year.

That’s an awfully long time to wait. But we have a solution: if we toll the new lanes we can open them now instead of a few months later.

We’ll get a foreign company to complete the interchange at six times what it would cost to do it ourselves, and in exchange for doing us that favor we’ll let them charge you whatever they want. We’re not telling you how much they’re going to charge, but trust us it’s a really, really good deal.  We’re so excited about all the pesos they’re going to pull from your wallet that we’re cutting in on a piece of the action- we’ll get a portion of any “excess” revenues so we can build more trains in Charlotte.

If revenues don’t pan out we’ll dig into your pockets via the tax system and pay the Spaniards whatever it takes to keep them happy, but you don’t need to know that. You should also forget that you paid for the bridge and the right-of-way in the first place and that you just sold your soul for the next fifty years.

Instead you need to think of the advantages. Rather than spending ten minutes to get to the other side of town, for a few bucks you can drop off your books before the library closes. Or you can hop on a gridlocked I-77 a couple minutes earlier. Of course, if you’re not wealthy enough or desperate enough to get out of the cheapskate lane you can always idle away in traffic. See, we’re giving you a choice.

We expect traffic in the cheapskate lane will eventually back up to Rock Hill but we’re not going to tell you that because we don’t have to. All you need to know is no matter how awful traffic becomes, there’s always going to be one lane with hardly anybody on it.  After all, the last thing we want is an interchange that moves traffic because then cars would actually use it and that’s a terrible thing.

See, this is all part of our grand “congestion management” vision.  Tolls on I-77.  Tolls on 485.  Tolls on I-77 through Charlotte.

Just wait ‘til you see what we have planned for the Gilead-Statesville intersection.

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