The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 18, 2013

Our Readers Speak — Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013

Turnpike should have already been paid for

When I read or hear about the controversy of the turnpike tolls as to whether they should be continued or eliminated, it reminds me of how confused I am over the subject.

I moved here to Rupert in June 1975 from California. At that time I-64 West was dead-ended at “Sam Black Exit” which is U.S. 60.

On July 7, 1975, I went to work for Peoples Life Insurance Co. Their local office was located at Montgomery. I had to travel to that office every Friday to turn in our collections and do our paper work. I had to travel on U.S. 60 to Montgomery over mountains and curves at slow speed, and in winter it was dangerous.

A few years later the state extended I-64 to connect into I-77 (turnpike) at Beckley. The state paid for I-64 extension and no tolls were charged to pay for it.

The turnpike tolls were in force when I came here and have been in force ever since — it was $1.25 per  car then, now it’s $2 per car.

The turnpike should have been paid for a long time ago. The only reason I can think of for its existence is for state revenue

There are several employees seated at the toll booth stations (all three). A lot of the toll money goes to pay employee salaries. If an employee gets $10 per hour, it would take five cars at a $2 toll to pay one hour for one employee. Think about a dozen employees seated at each of the three stations and working around the clock shifts. How many cars to pay their wages?

I hate to see anyone lose their jobs, but I can see why people would  like to see the tolls eliminated.

Gas prices are also high in West Virginia. Last week I was in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and regular gas was $3.08 per gallon. Here in Rupert it’s $3.43 per gallon — why?

Don Keech