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Old 11-15-2012, 08:53 PM   #1
Kahta
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MassPike Allston

http://goo.gl/maps/nZC9T

Not pictured would be a 2+2+1 reversible express lane in the median.
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Old 11-15-2012, 09:29 PM   #2
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Re: MassPike Allston

I'm confused. Is this a proposal to Big Dig the Mass Pike, or deck it?

What about just installing modern, in-lane, at-speed automated toll-collection, and freeing up the land consumed by the Allston tolls?
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Old 11-15-2012, 11:57 PM   #3
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Re: MassPike Allston

I like the idea of realigning the Pike at the Allston interchange and redeveloping the resultant land.

In my plan below, the street grid is extended from the south and north, fully integrating the new area into the surrounding historic urban fabric.


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Old 11-16-2012, 12:42 AM   #4
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Re: MassPike Allston

I once saw a really old map which had a proposed street planned for Beacon Park, approximately where your Alcorn Street extension is, labelled "Massachusetts".

We could use another duplicate street name, right?
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Old 11-16-2012, 04:27 AM   #5
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Re: MassPike Allston

I've been doing a lot of Pike travel lately for work (vs. virtually none before except occasional airport visits) and I've realized that the Boston Extension roadway itself is, in fact, one of the least congested in the Boston area. The reason for that is simple: the toll booths are far, far beyond capacity. Therefore it is physically impossible to get enough cars onto the roadway to cause excessive congestion.

Eliminate all tolls except for capital-intensive harbor tunnels and bridges. Raise the gas tax to compensate. There's no need for the civil-liberties-infringing, corruption-inducing, high-overhead, Rube Goldberg machine of tolling (open-road or otherwise). That opens up the Pike to federal aid as well.

The enforcement and collection mechanisms for any tolling scheme are simply going to have costs that outweigh the benefits, particularly with an alternative as attractive and simple as the gas tax (which involves collection costs of, what, 1 or 2 DOR auditors for the entire state?). My opinion has changed on this. I used to be a strong proponent of congestion pricing.

To go to Framingham from the Weston plaza right now it costs 30 cents. In an open road tolling world you'd get charged something like a dollar if you didn't have EZ Pass to cover the cost of mailing. No matter what, your movement is tracked by the government. Oh, and if you don't pay it soon enough, you get a penalty, and eventually a license suspension. This is the stuff that makes people lose faith in government. It doesn't matter that it's just a particular government agency that's the problem, or that in the real world it's often an individual's fault (for, say, not changing their address with the RMV after a move). For better or for worse, even a competently-run system is still dealing with human beings and human nature. And as a strong believer in an activist government in certain areas, I believe it's important to not have the government doing stuff that pisses people off at government.

Besides the simple efficiency argument versus the gas tax, and the issue of pissing people off, EZ Pass simply doesn't work all that well, and certainly isn't flawless. I get screwed on a semi-regular basis. Sometimes they fix it on their own, sometimes they don't. Looking at the last 4 months of toll transactions, I have several Weston and Allston barrier toll transactions where they V-Tolled me for $1.25 despite having my transponder and later caught their error, matching my plate against their database, and gave me a 25 cent adjustment. I have a couple Western Pike transactions where a 30 cent toll became $2.40 because they transpondered me at the onramp and v-tolled me at the offramp, or vice-versa. Am I going to call them for a $2.10 adjustment? Of course not - rationally, my time is worth more than the time it would take to call them. But lots of people would both call and get pissed off. And this isn't uncommon or simply an issue with my transponder, I know of other people with similar issues.

Over the summer I did a bunch of travel on the NH and Maine Turnpikes. On a few visits, and at a few toll plazas, their equipment didn't pick up my transponder. Months later I haven't received any violation notice. Having dealt with the RMV's DCU and the NH DMV, and having helped other motorists with these issues, I'm terrified that I'm going to be caught up in some bureaucratic snafu where with no notice my Reg and License will get nonrenewed or suspended and I'll have to navigate an interstate clusterfuck of government agencies.

It's just not worth it. The state portion of the gas tax in MA is ~23 cents. Make it an even 50 cents, index it to inflation, and then leave me the hell alone. I have enough to deal with in my life without worrying about toll violations.

Side note - let me renew my registration for as long as I want. I'll pre-pay for 6 years in exchange for avoiding the hassle of 3 separate renewals, even if it's full cash price and not Net Present Value. And get rid of inspection stickers, they're ugly and they're already linked to license plates anyway - Connecticut has done it.
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Old 11-16-2012, 10:03 AM   #6
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Re: MassPike Allston

Open-road tolling.
Open-road tolling.
Open-road tolling.
Open-road tolling.
Open-road tolling.
OPEN-ROAD TOLLING!!!


Good god, Massachusetts, get with the times.
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:16 AM   #7
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Re: MassPike Allston

Quote:
Originally Posted by massmotorist View Post
Eliminate all tolls except for capital-intensive harbor tunnels and bridges. Raise the gas tax to compensate. There's no need for the civil-liberties-infringing, corruption-inducing, high-overhead, Rube Goldberg machine of tolling (open-road or otherwise). That opens up the Pike to federal aid as well.
But as CAFE standards improve and mileage gets better and better, you get less and less for each cent you raise the gas tax.

Don't get me wrong, I think the gas tax should be raised, but I don't think tolls should be eliminated as well.
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Old 11-16-2012, 01:03 PM   #8
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Re: MassPike Allston

The best example of open road tolling I've seen so far was in Texas. Snapshot of license plate linked to registry, taken at full highway speed from an overhead gantry.

If they can do it down there, we can do it up here.
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Old 11-16-2012, 02:03 PM   #9
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Re: MassPike Allston

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I didn't see any mention of the Grand Junction, which would be greatly affected by this proposal. As the Grand Junction Railroad runs where the new grid is placed, reroute the GJR to stay alongside the Worcester Line tracks (4 tracks total) until past Nickerson Field, and then run it under the Pike. If Storrow Drive is being eliminated, the Grand Junction Railroad bridge over Storrow and the Charles should be rebuilt. It would be great to rebuild it as a much higher speed (i.e. >10 mph), double tracked bridge over the Charles. This would give a lot of opportunity for future transit developments, especially if Framingham/Worcester -> North Station is ever deemed necessary for South Station expansion.
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Old 11-16-2012, 02:06 PM   #10
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Re: MassPike Allston

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But as CAFE standards improve and mileage gets better and better, you get less and less for each cent you raise the gas tax.

Don't get me wrong, I think the gas tax should be raised, but I don't think tolls should be eliminated as well.
Compensate with a vehicle ownership tax: 1% of the KBB value of the car, computed yearly and charged either yearly or monthly depending on how much you think you can get. If your car's over ten years old OR depreciates to less than $1000 in value, whichever happens first, the tax is waived.

Yes, it's double taxing people's car ownership, and no I don't care. We can take $1000 off the value instead of exempting cars worth less than that if it makes people feel better.

The beauty of it is that fuel efficiency is a selling point, and it drives the value of cars up, so as you make less money off the gas tax for a car you get more from it on the ownership tax.

Alternatively, if you have a sense of economic justice and making those who damage the roads the most pay the most - levy a VMT against commercial vehicles on top of that. Bracket the VMT based on vehicle weight. Heavier trucks get whacked more per mile than lighter ones.
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:13 PM   #11
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Re: MassPike Allston

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeman312 View Post
I didn't see any mention of the Grand Junction, which would be greatly affected by this proposal. As the Grand Junction Railroad runs where the new grid is placed, reroute the GJR to stay alongside the Worcester Line tracks (4 tracks total) until past Nickerson Field, and then run it under the Pike.
My plan would not impact the Grand Junction line at all. Where it merges with the Worcester Line there would be 4 tracks all the way to where the turnaround loop takes off.
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Old 11-16-2012, 10:17 PM   #12
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Re: MassPike Allston

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Originally Posted by Commuting Boston Student View Post
Compensate with a vehicle ownership tax: 1% of the KBB value of the car, computed yearly and charged either yearly or monthly depending on how much you think you can get. If your car's over ten years old OR depreciates to less than $1000 in value, whichever happens first, the tax is waived.

Yes, it's double taxing people's car ownership, and no I don't care. We can take $1000 off the value instead of exempting cars worth less than that if it makes people feel better.

The beauty of it is that fuel efficiency is a selling point, and it drives the value of cars up, so as you make less money off the gas tax for a car you get more from it on the ownership tax.
MA already does this: 2.5% excise tax on the vehicle's list price based on the vehicle's model year and a formula for depreciation.
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Old 11-17-2012, 03:22 PM   #13
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Re: MassPike Allston

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MA already does this: 2.5% excise tax on the vehicle's list price based on the vehicle's model year and a formula for depreciation.
Indeed, this is the mechanism (along with Ch. 90 grants from MassDOT) through which local town roads are paid for by motorists. It's the only driving-related tax that goes to municipalities.
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Old 11-17-2012, 03:24 PM   #14
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Re: MassPike Allston

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Originally Posted by MBTAddict View Post
But as CAFE standards improve and mileage gets better and better, you get less and less for each cent you raise the gas tax.

Don't get me wrong, I think the gas tax should be raised, but I don't think tolls should be eliminated as well.
So you change the inflation formula to account for fuel economy increases. I have never understood that argument, because you generate the same revenue if the tax is high enough. If people were switching to electric vehicles en masse, that would be a different story.
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Old 11-17-2012, 03:30 PM   #15
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Re: MassPike Allston

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Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
Open-road tolling.
Open-road tolling.
Open-road tolling.
Open-road tolling.
Open-road tolling.
OPEN-ROAD TOLLING!!!


Good god, Massachusetts, get with the times.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
The best example of open road tolling I've seen so far was in Texas. Snapshot of license plate linked to registry, taken at full highway speed from an overhead gantry.

If they can do it down there, we can do it up here.
Yeah, and you add equipment costs to the administrative costs of enforcement and mailing and see what happens when the system makes mistakes, and you get a self-perpetuating, inefficient, Rube Goldberg machine of insanity.

Read my post from yesterday and you'll understand why open road tolling is a terrible idea.
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Old 11-17-2012, 04:50 PM   #16
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Re: MassPike Allston

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Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
I'm confused. Is this a proposal to Big Dig the Mass Pike, or deck it?

What about just installing modern, in-lane, at-speed automated toll-collection, and freeing up the land consumed by the Allston tolls?
Deck it.

I'd like to see better access to brighton since it would eliminate all of the trips that motorists have to make through allston to get to the pike.

Quote:
Originally Posted by massmotorist View Post
I've been doing a lot of Pike travel lately for work (vs. virtually none before except occasional airport visits) and I've realized that the Boston Extension roadway itself is, in fact, one of the least congested in the Boston area. The reason for that is simple: the toll booths are far, far beyond capacity. Therefore it is physically impossible to get enough cars onto the roadway to cause excessive congestion.
I disagree-- I've been in congested traffic from the tolls back to the pru tunnel a number of times and the reason that the tolls are backed up is because beyond the tolls there is more congestion.


Quote:
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The best example of open road tolling I've seen so far was in Texas. Snapshot of license plate linked to registry, taken at full highway speed from an overhead gantry.

If they can do it down there, we can do it up here.
They also only bill users without a transponder for every $10 of usage. From what it was explained to me by someone from there, the roads are entirely private, so the employees are actually competent and not some political hack.
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:01 PM   #17
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Re: MassPike Allston

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Originally Posted by massmotorist View Post
Yeah, and you add equipment costs to the administrative costs of enforcement and mailing and see what happens when the system makes mistakes, and you get a self-perpetuating, inefficient, Rube Goldberg machine of insanity.

Read my post from yesterday and you'll understand why open road tolling is a terrible idea.
I did read it, I think the system is getting better, and if they can have it in Texas -- home to a large population of cranky, automobile-loving, government-suspicious folks -- then it should be no problem here.
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:11 PM   #18
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Re: MassPike Allston

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I disagree-- I've been in congested traffic from the tolls back to the pru tunnel a number of times and the reason that the tolls are backed up is because beyond the tolls there is more congestion.
Much of the traffic consists of backups from poorly designed pre-Interstate offramps and interchanges. I'm not claiming there's no congestion due to insufficient roadway capacity - just that there's less congestion than there is on other highways in the area, and that much of the congestion would be alleviated with the removal or tolls and with proper engineering solutions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
I did read it, I think the system is getting better, and if they can have it in Texas -- home to a large population of cranky, automobile-loving, government-suspicious folks -- then it should be no problem here.
It worked in Texas because it was a brand new road that didn't exist before, it was done by a private company, and because the alternative was either no-build or raise gas taxes (the second option being laughable in TX, of course). TXDOT didn't have the money to build it on their own. Even despite all that it's generating significant mouth-breather opposition.

It also offers the nation's highest speed limit, at 85 mph (!), so it actually offers drivers a value proposition. The optics are totally different between 1) a private company offering a premium-priced, brand-new highway with the nation's fastest speed limit as a bypass to an existing, congested highway and 2) adding tolls to existing highways built and maintained with public funds in previously developed urban areas lacking substantial alternative routes.
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:37 PM   #19
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Re: MassPike Allston

I thought we were talking about the Mass Pike, which is already tolled, albeit in an inefficient manner.
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Old 11-17-2012, 09:24 PM   #20
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Re: MassPike Allston

Hey, if we're dreaming, why use Hypertrophic Back Bay as a template? Streets are too wide, blocks are too long, as was the fad in the 19th century. Go smaller
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