FHWA Office of Highway Policy Information - sloppy & stupid

April 13, 2012
By Peter Samuel

Want to see how your federal taxes get misspent? Just go to the Federal Highway Administration's effort to collect data on toll facilities. A toll facility is a road, bridge or tunnel where a toll is collected for passage, right?

Under the heading "Toll Facilities in the United States" the FHWA have a hodgepodge listing not of toll facilities as the heading promises but of organizations connected with toll facilities.

Some of them anyway, others have no connection at all.

So under Toll Facilities, New York - and this is the only state we reviewed and we chose it randomly - they don't have any toll facility at all listed.  Not one.

No mention of the Henry Hudson Bridge, the Tappan Zee Bridge, the Thruway, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Queens-Midtown Tunnel, or any toll facility as such. What they have is toll agencies and others.

They lead off with Metropolitan Trans. Auth. which certainly through its Bridges & Tunnels division operates nine toll facilities.

Further down have as a completely separate listing of another 'Toll Facility' and a different address: Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Auth.

There was a Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. The famous, for some infamous, Robert Moses ruled there. It has long been absorbed into the MTA, and remains only as the legal entity under which MTA issues toll revenue bonds.

Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Auth. is not a "toll facility" nor a separate toll agency from MTA.

Then the FHWA data manglers have a couple of mysterious toll facility listings: Palisades Interstate Park Comm. and Olympic Regional Development Auth.

The first as its title suggests is just a park commission. It has nothing to do with any toll facility. It is not a toll agency.

There is a Pallisades Interstate Parkway, a 42 mile parkway up the west bank of the Hudson River from the George Washington Bridge to Bear Mountain - its Interstate refers to it being partly in NY, partly NJ.

It is a scenic and very pretty parkway with low bridges (no trucks) in the style of northeast parkways, but no toll is collected on it and never has been. It was built with a mix of federal, state and charitable ( JD Rockefeller) monies.

Olympic Regional Development Auth.? Here's what they say about themselves:

"About ORDA

The New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) was originally created by the State of New York to manage the facilities used during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games at Lake Placid. ORDA operates Whiteface Mountain ski area located in the Town of Wilmington, just 15 minutes outside the Village of Lake Placid; the Olympic Center; the Olympic Jumping Complex and Olympic Sports Complex; and Gore Mountain ski area located in North Creek, New York -- 80 miles south of Lake Placid. As host to international and national championships, the Authority has brought millions of athletes and spectators to the Adirondack Region. ORDA has seen unparalleled assistance and support of its operation from both Albany and the State of New York...."

Nothing whatever to do with any toll facility!

We could look further but what's the point.

This random cursory look at USDOT's Federal Highway Administration's Office of Highway Policy Information work on tolls reveals mistake after mistake, idiocy after idiocy.

By all means look at their stuff for laughs.

This organization is run by a bunch of people so ignorant, so sloppy and so stupid, nothing they publish on tolls should be taken seriously, let alone treated as authoritative.

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/tollpage/toll_list.cfm

Earlier critique:

http://www.tollroadsnews.com/node/5199

EDITOR: This is so bad I can't bear to go further but a reader notes:

(1) There's no entry for the Maryland Transportation Authority (at all)!

(2) There is indeed an entry for the low-water bridge across the Potomac River between Oldtown, Maryland and Green Spring, West Virginia, but they put the entry under West Virginia even though the bridge is entirely in Maryland and  the entity that owns the bridge has a mailing address in Oldtown, not West Virginia.  Video crossing the bridge:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9L24QpYkYEw

(3) The list has several ferry services listed but no entry for White's Ferry between Montgomery County, Md. and Loudoun County, Va. The ferry does have an entry on Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White's_Ferry

(4) VDOT is still shown as "owning" the Dulles Toll Road.  No mention of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

(5) TRANSCOM in New Jersey  does not own or operate anything. It's a type of clearinghouse for information (in real time) between an assortment of public agencies (several of which do operate toll roads or toll crossings) in N.Y., N.J. and Connecticut.  See: http://www.xcm.org/

(6) They list the defunct New Jersey Highway Authority (former owner/operator of the Garden State Parkway), even though it was merged into the New Jersey Turnpike Authority quite a few years ago!

TOLLROADSnews 2012-04-13

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