Commentary: Mileage-based fee is not the answer for Delaware

I am writing in response to an article titled “DelDOT seeks more volunteers in mileage-based user fee study.” This was on the front page of the State News Aug. 24.

I am trying to live the American dream and build a new home. I work hard for a living to purchase everything that I own. I changed jobs around a year ago to try to earn more money and my commute is much longer now to earn a higher pay check. It’s around 50 miles per day round trip.

As far as my transportation, for the first time in my life I finally have an economy car that gets around 35 miles per gallon with my long commute. Now I see this article on the front page of the State News wanting to yank the carpet right out from under my feet! What a joke this is.

Volunteers who plug a device into their car to record how far and how much they drive. They state in the article that since vehicles are getting better gas mileage and the United States as a whole is not burning as much fossil fuels, let’s try to screw it to the people in a different way.

They figure the gas tax is not generating enough money to sustain our roads and infrastructure. They do have stats to back this up and say that in Delaware our gas tax revenue comes in third now behind toll collections and DMV fees. What a slap in the face to someone like me trying to make more money and treat the planet better and burn less gas.

Also my little economy car going 50 miles a day is not the same as a big heavy truck going the same 50 miles. Also if you work close to home and jumped for joy reading this article, just wait. They will somehow find a way to stick it to you too. If all three of these revenue sources are not enough money to maintain our roads, I have a few suggestions.

Make the out-of-state folks coming to use our beaches pay more! I go to work every day and see a constant line of out-of-state license plates on Route one. EZ-Pass is high tech enough. I’m sure they can tell if a vehicle is out of state. Charge these folks more!

While I’m on the toll subject, Delaware residents should not see a toll increase if it ever goes up in the future. To tell you the truth, if you live here and pay taxes, you should not have to pay any tolls. That would never happen but wishful thinking.

Next on my list, stop all the wasteful spending. I see more useless bicycle lanes going in then ever before. Much of the time next to a perfectly good concrete sidewalk with next to no walkers ever on it. Why the state put cyclists on the road with vehicles is beyond me. Hey other states do it, so I guess Delaware should too.

Next cost savings item, all the millions DelDOT spends in throwing out salt in the winter when even a dusting of snow falls. Just plow it and let Mother Nature melt it or throw sand out instead of salt. If folks can’t drive on anything but bare asphalt than you shouldn’t have a license. Ooops! I would be taking license renewal and car registration fees away and I don’t want to do that. I didn’t even mention the damage the salt does to the asphalt and concrete on our roads. Over time it cracks them up and in a few years down the road it’s time to repave them.

The electronic equipment in these DelDOT dump trucks to spread the salt is not cheap either. I am not sore at DelDOT themselves. They are just doing their jobs because the public has a hard time driving even with a little snow on the road.

My last point to make as far as saving Delaware money is hire better contractors. You get what you pay for. I know it’s hard to find folks who do good work these days but come on. The Little Heaven fiasco that I had to drive through every day was a nightmare. All these overpasses cost the state millions and do not help the traffic flow any at all during peak beach season travel. What a mess, and I have to drive in it to work.

The volume of traffic is too much for a dual-lane highway. One person taps their brakes and one mile back a car comes to a stop along with 100 others. They should have thought about three lanes in both directions about 15 or 20 years ago.

Everything I have mentioned is not rocket science. I do not consider myself far left or right politically either. I am just an average blue collar worker who wants to live a good life, own a home and wish our state legislators would get with the program. They need to start working for Delawareans and not against them, taking our rights, a tax for every little thing and caring only about themselves. We do have a few good politicians but they are a rare breed these days.

John Messina Jr. is a resident of Smyrna.

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