From what I know of Gerry Baliles, he was courageous when he proposed an increase in the sales tax a couple of decades ago. Now that he’s out of office, why is he proposing such a simplistic idea as collecting tolls on major highways as the sole way of raising money for transportation?

Ok, maybe it isn’t the sole way, but it’s the only way described in today Washington Post article. Rather than be courageous and innovative now, he simply says collect tolls. What about raising the gas, sales or income taxes or implementing land use planning directives that minimize car trips?

Baliles described the state’s deficiencies in transportation as “overwhelming” and the costs for fixing them as “enormous.” He wrote that a lack of political will to make substantive changes led him to the toll proposal.

“Resistance to any form of tax increase remains strong, and the rising gas prices only increase that resistance,” he wrote. But, he said, “the bottom line is that transportation needs must be able to depend upon dedicated revenue sources.”

He’s right about the lack of political will. But why not call for leaders to show some leadership and offer comprehensive solutions?

[Baliles] also is part of a consortium of leading developers who submitted an offer this summer to purchase and upgrade the Dulles Toll Road for more than $1 billion in exchange for toll revenue. The state is considering the offer.

Tolls have their place, but there are costs — in time. Can you imagine what the commute would be like in Northern Virginia if toll booths sprouted up as Baliles suggests? Anyone ride I-95 in Delaware where the toll booth can back up traffic for miles?