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What is a Toll System?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A toll system is a system of roadways, or at least a single roadway, where the privilege to use it is based on a user fee. While some become upset with the idea of toll roads, many others see them as a viable funding option for a general road system that, in many other cases, has deteriorated to the point of being inconvenient. A toll system may not only be a road, but can also be a bridge or tunnel for which users pay a fee, or toll, in order to pass.

The toll system in the United States is mainly relegated to the eastern portion of the country. The most well known of these toll roads include the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Florida Turnpike, and the New Jersey Turnpike. The reason for these roads being part of a toll system has mainly to do with the expansion of the United States, and the heavier population centers being in the East. As more federal funding became available for roadways in the middle part of the 20th Century, the need for toll systems waned. Thus, the West did not see as many toll roads as a consequence.

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The main purpose of a toll system is to create a roadway that offers some level of convenience over other roads in the area. This may mean that they are simply maintained better than others, which is usually the case anyway. Still, in most cases, it means these roads are limited access highways that often can provide commuters with a much faster way of getting from one point to another, especially during times when there is more traffic on the roadways.

The latest incarnation of the toll system is a hybrid system. In this situation, the same road may be used both by those who want to use the general access portion of the roadway and those who want to access a toll lane on the same roadway. This could help facilitate traffic movement, with those utilizing the toll road often being able to move forward with less traffic, and thus reach their destinations in a more time efficient way.

One of the main criticisms of toll systems is that they make taxpayers pay for a road they have already paid for through other taxes. Thus, the toll system makes the taxpayer pay twice for the same road system. Some may feel like a toll road is nothing more than a greedy government trying to take advantage of them.

Proponents of the system suggest that it is a fair way to conduct business, because those who use it, and contribute to the road's deterioration, help pay for its maintenance. Further, all toll money collected is used for the road system, which can be important in cases where leaders are tempted to raid road-use tax funds for purposes other than road construction and maintenance. Thus, the source of money from toll collections is a dependable income.

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