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Tolling Points

Too Many Roadside Crosses

Bill Cramer

The fire chief in Barneys River, Nova Scotia has the best reason of all to support tolls along his local highway.

He’s sick of putting up roadside crosses to mark the spots where drivers have died in highway collisions.

“Bad memories start coming back to you about that specific accident,” Joe MacDonald told the New Glasgow News June 22, after the province announced a tolling feasibility study for several roads, including Highway 104. Some sections of the 322-kilometre (200-mile) road already operate as four-lane, divided highways, and one is already tolled. But the road still includes about 100 treacherous miles of two-lane highway, sometimes with uncontrolled access.

That means “there’s not too many stretches of that highway (where) I haven’t been to an accident,” MacDonald said. “You don’t like driving it that much, put it that way.”

The fire department has responded to more than a dozen local fatal accidents since 2009, and MacDonald sees a twinned highway as the solution. “He notes the success of tolling and twinning the Cobequid Pass in the reduction of fatalities on that stretch,” The News reports. “While it won’t stop all accidents, he says, it cuts down the number of deaths.”

The provincial study will look at 301 kilometres (187 miles) of capacity along four highways, including 163 kilometres (101 miles) along four stretches of Highway 104. “I want to be clear, government will not implement tolls unless Nova Scotians say they want it,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Geoff MacLellan. But tolls are an option given the province’s fiscal position—and if it means fewer crosses along the roadside, the cost will deliver an incalculable benefit.

IBTTA's 2015 Report on Tolling in the U.S. shows that the fatality rate on toll roads is about one-third (0.50) the rate of all U.S. roads (1.47 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.)

One example, the fatality rate on the Pennsylvania Turnpike is about one-fourth the fatality rate for all national roadways: 0.27 (PTC) versus a national rate of 1.12 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles over the past 5 years. Furthermore, when compared to all roadways within Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Turnpike has about one-fifth of the fatality rate. The fatality rate on all Pennsylvania roads over the last 5 years is 1.25 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles.

As July 4th is here, let's keep everyone safe as they travel.



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