"Public Use" Hits the Road


So New London's right to charge back rent to the residents whose land it's confiscating has been upheld as a constitutional principle, and "disastrous consequences for the country" have been averted. Bully.

No need to be outraged, then, over local governments in Colorado deliberately screwing with traffic regulations in order to increase toll revenues:

When E-470 opened in 2002, some people thought it was a strange coincidence that, about the same time, the speed limit on nearby Tower Road, a paved, 2-lane, rural highway, dropped from 55 MPH to 40 MPH. Several apparently unnecessary traffic signals also appeared. This, in spite of the fact that after the toll road opened, Tower Road would have even less traffic than it did before.

Well, it was no coincidence.

The lower speed limit and extra traffic signals, which make Tower Road slower and less convenient to use, are required by a "non-compete" clause in an agreement between the E-470 Public Highway Authority and nearby Commerce City.

The goal is to impede traffic on Tower Road so drivers will decide they are better off using the toll road. This protects the revenue stream from the tolls, thereby protecting the interests of the toll road's investors.

The story was uncovered by bloggers at unbossed.com, who unfortunately miss the point that a market isn't exactly free when government arbitrarily sets controls for, in this case, traffic flow; link via Jalopnik.