Tolls for I-94 and I-90? Why not?

highwayBecause of the safety problems posed by toll booths on major highways, tolls started to fall out of favor on some of the nation’s busiest highways until technology made the shakedown easier.

Transponders linked to drivers’ accounts made it simple to automatically extract the cash. No slowing down. No danger. Easy money.

So it will be interesting to see whether more politicians will embrace tolls — user fees — for the privilege of driving through a state.

Members of Wisconsin’s Assembly seem to be warming to the idea, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

A study from the state’s Department of Transportation said with four years of infrastructure work and about $400 million in start-up costs, turning highways into toll roads could raise up to $40 billion over 30 years.

Even better — politically — is a lot of the money would come from people who don’t live — or vote — in the state: People passing through on interstates 94, 90, 43, 41 and 39.

Under the study’s projections, a motorist would pay between as little as $2.72 or as much as $8.16 to travel from Madison to Milwaukee.

The first scenario is based on an average toll rate of 4 cents a mile; the second, an average rate of 12 cents a mile. The range of rates is comparable to other states, such as Illinois, that collect highway tolls, according to the study.

Under the same scenarios, a trip from Madison to La Crosse would cost as little as $5.16 or as much as $15.48.

The state would need permission from the federal government for the idea, but there’s a possible spot for the state in a federal test of more interstate tolling.

Between Illinois and Boston, only Pennsylvania (and the area east of Cleveland) is toll free on I-90.

If Wisconsin were to start charging tolls on the interstate, why not extend the practice right into Minnesota too, shifting more of the burden for highway upkeep to those who use them the most?

Related tolls: Bankrupt Allen couple sues NTTA for trying to collect $26,000 in tolls and fees (Dallas News)