Deregulation

Pimp my Turnpike

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Stephen J. Dubner at the New York Times' Freakonomics blog posted this letter from a reader. It's chock full of suggestions for improving the New Jersey Turnpike, including the construction of a Milton Friedman "rest spa":

The citizens of New Jersey must decide how to manage a financial crisis that has resulted from both decades of wishful thinking and their leaders' lack of political courage. A major source of anxiety is the future of the New Jersey Turnpike. Following are a few ideas for improving the finances of the Turnpike Authority, which may have escaped the notice of the planners.

1. Thorstein Veblen would instantly recognize New Jerseyans' need to be conspicuous consumers. How else to explain the holiday mobs at Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom? The Turnpike already comprises both car and truck lanes north- and south-bound between exits 8A and 18. Why not convert the car lanes to first class? The surcharge will provide the same function as toll roads in Texas and Colorado (and alas! the late Concorde) that provide faster travel options for those who … er, think it's worth it. And we can do it with minimal adverse travel impact by adding an EZ-Pass Express receiver at the entrances to the first class lanes. If traffic gets bad in steerage, then presto! More people will pay the surcharge. And if that is successful, maybe we can attract Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse to the first class service areas, I mean spas. We can name the first one after Milton Friedman (BA, Rutgers U., 1932)….

reason founder Robert Poole wrote about an America without toll booths here.

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  1. Having rarely dealt with toll roads of any kind I have one question. What the $#@% is this Hargiss guy talking about?

  2. The Turnpike and the Parkway are fucking ridiculous. If you are going down to the shore or to AC you stop every couple of miles for a toll. Anything would be an improvement.

  3. Rutgers University, the alma mater I am ashamed of, refuses to publicly acknowledge its connection to Friedman. That is the first and most important reason they will never see one scarlet cent of my donation money.

  4. drip,

    I have the same impression. I was at Rutgers for four years and nobody mentioned Friedman’s being an alum once while I was there. (I won’t go so far as to say I am ashamed of RU, though; its a decent school at a decent price, or at least that was true when I was there, ’88 to ’92, History Dept.)

  5. LOL, anyone who has ever commuted the Jersey TP knows its LONG overdue!

    JT
    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  6. Apparently, some part of the NJ constitution acutally bans selling state roads to private companies, so that will be an issue.
    But, I live in a shore town and on a Friday between Memorial Day and Labor Day I will spend 3 hours stuck in traffic if I don’t leave by noon. Considering how many of these people come from out of state and how much debt the state is in, I don’t get why they don’t put in higher toll prices during this time.

  7. I hate the turnpike. I really really hate the turnpike. If you get stuck in the truck lanes, you can never transition over to the car lanes. If you’re in the car lanes, you better know how to find exits into the rest of New Jersey. I can just imagine further segregation of the turnpike to be nothing other than a complete and unmitigated disaster, where neither cars nor trucks move and nobody knows where they should be.

    In conclusion, FUCK NEW JERSEY!!!!

  8. What the $#@% is this Hargiss guy talking about?

    I haven’t a clue. Maybe it opens up another good opportunity to dump on NJ?

  9. “The Turnpike and the Parkway are fucking ridiculous. If you are going down to the shore or to AC you stop every couple of miles for a toll. Anything would be an improvement.”

    The Parkway has actually been greatly improved. They – finally! – installed those high-speed EZPass lanes a few years back and got rid of a bunch of tolls. what they did was just double the amount that you pay going one way, and then eliminate the same toll in the going opposite direction. It’s made a HUGE difference when going down the Shore.
    The Turnpike is another story though. How Rt.95 – the main hwy on the East Coast – is just 2 lanes for a long stretch is beyond me.

  10. Being from Philadelphia, it never ceased to amaze me how many people in the area consider a house on the Jersey Shore to be “making it.” I’ve literally known multi-millionaires who could buy and sell Swiss villas or caribbean paradises who would rather spend every frick’n summer at their place on the boardwalk.

    It’s a big world. There’s more to it than paying $5 for a paper cone of french fries, you stupid shoebies.

  11. Abdul,

    Having never been to the Jersey shore and having no interest in it, I actually find it cool that that is some people’s dream. Simple pleasures.

    My Dad’s idea of a vacation is to farm.

    Yeah, I dont get it either.

  12. The Garbage State Parkway- I remember it well. Nothing like coming into a toll booth at eighty miles an hour, fumbling around for a fucking quarter.

  13. Dude. Toll lanes in SoCal were an unmitigated failure, what makes this guy think they’d work here?

  14. I actually find it cool that that is some people’s dream.

    Me too. I have very nice memories of summer vacations spent in Atlantic City.

    My idea of a vacation is sitting around the house doing what I normally do after work, just having more time to do it.

  15. The Turnpike is another story though. How Rt.95 – the main hwy on the East Coast – is just 2 lanes for a long stretch is beyond me.

    going northbound, get on 295 after the delaware bridge (here are your extra 3 lanes), then get off on US 130 in Bordentown – you need to get gas anyway, and the gas on this stretch is the cheapest anywhere north of Georgia (Gasway was the cheapest). Get gas and a coke and keep on heading north to 195, go east for one exit and get back on the turnpike north.

    Reverse for southbound.

    You save on tolls and bypass the ignorant rubes that take the turnpike all the way. Caveat- if your timing makes it so you hit Philly at rush hour, you will get stuck at the 76/676 junction for a bit, because 295 disappears into it for a while, then reemerges after about 3/4 mile.

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