Toll Roads

In California, the superhighways are colloquially referred to as "freeways".  That's not really because they're "free" in every sense of the word.  They actually cost something to build and maintain.   Really.  Despite their collective condition.  Really.  They are called "freeways" because they have no stop signs or cross traffic--"free" from the vagarities of surface street driving, as it were.  What is missing from the concept is a toll plaza or toll booth, except in rare circumstances, like a bridge toll.

Here in Ohio, and in the Midwest generally, the Interstate highways aren't necessarily referred to as "freeways", but just as often, they're named "Turnpike"--Why turnpike instead of freeway, you ask?  Toll booths.  Stop signs for the toll booths.  Nothing is free in these parts.  Toll roads are the way.  Pay as you go, that's the way.  Taxes are lower, though--it works out.  Plus, there's always a way to dodge the toll roads.  Jump onto Mapquest.com and look up your destination, then select the option to avoid the freeway (or Interstate highway--whatev).  If you make this selection by accident, you're in for an adventure.

I told you that so that I could tell you this:

I needed to get from Youngstown to the Pittsburgh airport and back.   Not really a big deal, and I've done this before, but not often, and I get lost easily, so I always get directions on the Internet.   I'd get one of those talking GPS thingies, but, as an alternative, I have Mrs. Young, who suffices quite will at the talking part, and is usually a pretty good navigator.  Unfortunately, I'd accidentally gotten return directions that AVOIDED the toll roads.  It was dark.  A drive that should take 45 minutes or an hour had already taken twice that.  I was lost.  I was somewhere near Shippingport on the Ohio river.  I knew that because a rusted sign told me so.  Tempers were short, and the fault for the predicament was clear.  Finally, a sign showing the way to the Interstate was found.  It was a toll road, and I was grateful.  Thank God.  A toll road.  Always double check your Mapquest directions.

When you're on a toll road, there's no way off of it.  If you need gas or a bathroom stop or a snack, you've got to use the Travel Plazas on the toll road.  Franchises, I imagine.  Nasty hot dogs and gas at a prevailing rate.  Still, not a bad deal.

If you lose your toll booth ticket, it costs you 7 bucks at the pay station.  So, don't lose your ticket.

I have since obtained a GPS unit.  It talks, but that doesn't seem to intimidate Mrs. Young.

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