The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Opinion

June 6, 2009

Toll fight

Delegate’s threat to block toll booth is totally irresponsible

Delegate Clif Moore is not alone in his feelings toward a looming toll hike on the West Virginia Turnpike.

Many in southern West Virginia are mad and frustrated that they have to pay a toll at all — let alone one that will likely rise following a June 25 meeting of the state Parkways Authority — when motorists in other parts of the state can travel interstate highways without stopping and handing money to toll collectors.

But Moore’s threat to block the Ghent toll plaza with his car if the toll hike is approved is irresponsible, especially for someone who helps write the state’s laws.

The McDowell County Democrat says if another seven to 10 people join the protest, they can stop traffic along the turnpike. So far, at least publicly, he has no takers.

“I understand Clif’s frustrations, and I’m frustrated as well,” Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, said. “But that wouldn’t be my first response. I think there are other alternatives. I don’t intend to be arrested myself.”

Moore says he’s willing to go to jail in his protest. And if he follows through, that’s where he belongs — in jail and out of office.

Has Moore thought about the consequences of his actions? Think about it. Shutting down a busy interstate highway would disrupt local and interstate commerce, cause tempers to rise and, most importantly, put lives at risk by jeopardizing the safety of other motorists.

Hopefully, this is all rhetoric, which, in itself, is also irresponsible. But at least there’s time for Moore to undo the trouble he might have already caused.

Let’s also hope the Parkways Authority, following four public meetings on the toll increase last month, now understands the depth of opposition to the tolls, period, that it understands people are tired of paying money to travel a highway that has continually deteriorated, and will dedicate itself to removing the tolls once and for all — which should have been done years ago — when the latest round of bonds are paid off.

Meanwhile, Moore needs to join his legislative colleagues in pursuing toll relief in a more diplomatic manner.

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