He starts out: "Some people who study transportation problems are thinking about the unthinkable: Tolling lanes that are now untolled."
The column notes that the Reason Foundation, a conservative/libertarian think tank, has proposed putting tolls on interstates around the U.S. as an alternative to raising gas taxes or imposing new taxes and fees to fund road maintenance and construction.
The sticking point is that Congress would have to liberalize laws that make it very difficult to put tolls on existing interstate highways.
As for the frequently asked question, "Didn't we already pay for these roads?" Dr. Gridlock cites Patrick D. Jones, executive director of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, who at presentations uses a visual prop of a bag of ice he had paid for earlier in the day, the problem being that by the time he gives his presentation, it has deteriorated into a bag of water.
Locally, if the Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways' logic for keeping tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike is so that out-of-state travelers will bear the brunt of costs for state road construction and maintenance, then it would make sense to also toll Interstate 81 in the Eastern Panhandle and Interstate 70 in the Northern Panhandle, if Congress ever permits.
Finally, reporters covering the latest round of Mingo County corruption have complained that the usually loquacious Sen. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, has declined to comment on anything dealing with the investigations.
It's well known that Chafin has been at odds with Judge Michael Thornsbury for better than a decade, and on numerous occasions has introduced or tried to amend legislation to add a second judge in that circuit.
While he's not talking to the press, Chafin continues to distribute a monthly column, "Under the Capitol Dome," with the latest installment Thursday again making no mention of goings-on in Mingo. (Although he did have an interesting tidbit, wishing Sen. Bill Cole, R-Mercer, a speedy recovery following emergency gallbladder surgery.)
Meanwhile, I can't help but think of former Daily Mail political editor Richard Grimes portraying Chafin in a Third House skit in the early 1990s, wearing a white suit and declaring, "They got him, but they didn't get me, because I'm clean, I'm clean, I'm clean."
(That was in reference to a prior Mingo corruption investigation, leading to Johnie Owens' conviction for selling the sheriff's office for $100,000.)
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.