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article imageOpen Road Tolling a Possibility for Massachusetts

By Andi Bryant     Sep 25, 2007 in Politics
New report touts 'open road tolling' as one of the best ways to assist the fractured transportation funding in the state. Supporters and critics argue the pros and cons of the report, while Gov. Patrick continues to support his casino idea.
In an effort to salvage the state's crippled transportation funding, officials are weighing options for an open road toll system in which cameras will take pictures of license plates, save data about roads traveled, and at the end of the month, send a bill. The plan would completely eliminate the toll booth.
The idea of open road tolling is one of the top recommendations in a new report that discusses ways to narrow the multi-billion dollar gap in the state's transportation funding over the next 20 years.
Should the idea become reality, Massachusetts would stamp their state's seal on the user-list alongside Florida, Texas and Illinois who are actively implementing the technology along some of their roads. In Melbourne, Toronto and Israel, the technology has been in service for years.
While the technology use along the Massachusetts Turnpike is in only the talk stage, critics are already voicing their opinions. According to masslive.com, Ann Lambert, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, worries about the storage of information in databanks. "They clearly haven't thought through the need for privacy safeguards and the flushing of information after the data isn't needed," she said.
State Representative David Torrisi, who referred to the idea as 'ludicrous' said, "It's like Big Brother. It's having government watching everywhere you are going," he said. "They could track you going down to buy a pack of cigarettes."
While the writers of the new report say that some infringement on privacy is inevitable, they believe it is the only way to offset the dwindling revenues from gas taxes.
Another proposal contained within the same report suggests raising the gas tax 11.5 cents. That portion of the report was quickly rejected by the state's political voices, including Gov. Deval Patrick who is optimistic that his plan to construct casinos in Massachusetts will bring the necessary revenues to support the state's transportation problems.
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