A couple of decades ago Georgia built a toll road. As toll roads go, it’s a little one, maybe five miles long. It connects Georgia 400, an expressway, to I-85 which then goes to downtown Atlanta. It has been a good addition to Metro Atlanta’s rush hour capacity.
The political deal at the time (though not part of the enabling legislation) was that the tollbooth would be removed in twenty years when the construction bonds were paid off. Further, the tolls could only be used for projects “related” to the new road.
That second promise was broken some years back when the pot of money from tolls grew to be too big, even after paying down on the bonds, for the politicians to resist. The word “related” was stretched and stretched to grab money for road projects that would otherwise have to be funded from other state money. There’s over $40 million sitting in the road’s reserve fund.
This morning, the other promise was broken when it was announced that the toll was being extended until 2020 so as to provide money for “crucial” toll road related projects.
The pols’ explanation? Times have changed; we need the revenue source. We meant what we said way back then. Who knew things would be this bad?
You know a politician is lying if you see the lips moving. Oh, they promise this time around that the continued stream of money will really only be used for toll road related projects, “cross our hearts (and hope not to be caught).”