The new US initiative to allow states to toll interstate freeways has to be good news, in the long run, for sustainable transport. The money will go for urgent repairs to those freeways, which is fine with me; the key benefit is to get drivers used to the notion of road tolling again, as it's likely impossible to achieve true decongestion pricing without something that looks like road tolls.
The initial legislation allows just three projects but they are obviously meant to demonstrate the idea and lead to wider rollout. Virginia, impressively, is proposing to toll parts of Interstate 95, probably the state's single most important artery.
At the opposite extreme, Arizona proposes to toll Interstate 15, and on that I have a question for journalists. The Los Angeles Times writes:
A proposed toll on a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 15 in Arizona is drawing opposition from neighboring Utah.
"If Arizona has been negligent in its maintenance of I-15, it should not try and foist its responsibility onto highway users or neighboring states who already pay into the system with their own tax dollars," Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert said in a recent statement.
Arizona's Interstate 15 segment is later described as being "in the state's northwest corner," but why not state the obvious? It's not connected to the rest of the state, Arizona has no towns on it, and it's frankly a bit hard for Arizona to get to. It's the segment between Mesquite, Nevada and St. George, Utah in this image (click to sharpen):
So if a journalist can't print a map, they could at least clarify that virtually no Arizona residents use this highway, which would be enough to make the politics clear. Arizona's toll-road bid is the opposite in spirit of Virginia's, designed exclusively to soak out-of-state drivers. Given the road's location, and its irrelevance to most Arizonans, the positions of all sides are totally understandable. Would that really spoil the "conflict" that journalism supposedly needs?