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Memo to the Legislature
Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Waving the Turnpike’s bloody shirt once again

Again the bloody shirt of Mass. Turnpike toll revenue is being waved.

This time it’s Governor Patrick’s demand for a greater gas tax increase if some tolls are possibly taken down.

How many more decades can the Mass. Turnpike tolls be held hostage – so long after they should have been released?

Shouldn’t this ransom have been paid off decades ago?

“The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority was created in 1952 by a special act of the Massachusetts General Court (legislature) upon the recommendation of Governor Dever and his Commissioner of Public Works, William F. Callahan. (1952 Acts and Resolves chapter 354; 1952 Senate Doc. 1.) The enabling act was modeled upon that of the Mystic River Bridge Authority (1946 Acts and Resolves chapter 562), but several changes were made that would prove of great importance fifty years later. . . .

“Construction began in 1955 . . .”

“The turnpike proposal, which was not in the Executive Office of Transportation and Construction's (EOTC) original bill but was added following extensive hearings last summer, raised concerns at today's hearing among several committee members who said they and their constituents were looking forward to the day when the authority's bonded indebtedness will be paid off and turnpike tolls can cease. The bonds are scheduled to retire in 1995.”

State House News Service
December 10, 1987
Transportation Bond

"The turnpike is the most expensive highway per mile in terms of tolls in the United States. The tollbooths — and the authority — were supposed to be dismantled when bonds for construction were paid off, but the authority has developed a pattern of finding new reasons to issue more bonds, which necessitate its continued existence."

State House News Service
August 29, 1991

“TURNPIKE BONDS.....State Treasurer Joseph Malone holds a news conference Tuesday at 11 am in room 157 to address the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority's plan to issue $500 million in bonds for road repairs. Gov. William Weld has filed two bills in attempt to block the bond authorization.”

State House News Service
Advances: Week of April 13, 1992

“The governor is concerned, of course, that state law allows the tolls on the western Turnpike to be removed after 2017, when the bonds are paid off. When that happens the new funding for transportation could dip below where he thinks it needs to be.

“That one always makes us giggle — the bonds should have been paid off decades ago, but Beacon Hill has never been reluctant to postpone that day of fiscal reckoning.”

Boston Herald editorial
July 19, 2013
Too late for talking

"'I believe the $805 million will be there in 2017 because I don’t see how those tolls are going to come down,' Cabral said during an oversight hearing Tuesday. 'To use the scare tactic, if you will, that if we don’t have the $135 million we won’t be able to fund South Coast or the Green Line is a little disingenuous.'

"Cabral referenced a 1952 law that stipulated tolls on the western turnpike will come down when the bonds are paid off and if the highway is in a state of good repair.

“'It’s unlikely a responsible secretary of transportation will make the decision to bring those down, so I think we’re focusing too much on this hypothetical possibility,'” Cabral said."

State House News Service
July 23, 2013
Rep claims "scare tactics" in toll debate

Citizens for Limited Taxation    PO Box 1147    Marblehead, MA 01945    508-915-3665