Letter: High-speed toll plazas cost Mainers their jobs

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In Melanie Sochan’s recent article about a new Maine Turnpike open-road toll plaza in Scarborough (“Work begins in Scarborough on high-speed turnpike toll”), she did not address the question of how many toll-taker jobs will be eliminated or have already been eliminated by E-ZPass. The cost of this automated tolling is $17.4 million. At a guesstimate salary package of $50,000 per year, that money could support almost 35 toll-takers for 10 years.

These are Maine jobs that can’t be subcontracted to other countries. These are jobs that support Maine families and, through the multiplier effect, help support the Maine economy. I’m guessing that any human work that needs to be done to run and service the automated plaza, after some real humans build it, will be capable of being sent to any country in the world where the population has broadband and a passing familiarity with the English language. I wonder if this is primarily for highway safety, pollution control, and efficient, speedy travel, or if it is simply to take away jobs from hardworking state employees who provide a human face and voice to greet travelers entering and leaving the state.

I’m willing to slow down to save a job. Does anyone else feel that way?

Michael Fasulo
South Portland

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  • knighthawk

    No.

    It’s 2017 and it’s something Maine is far behind other states in when it comes to infrastructure. We DESPERATELY need fast lanes in York, we need fast lanes at the end of 295 in Gardiner, and we could use them at the end of the turnpike approach by the mall. They need to hurry up in Falmouth too.

    If you’re so concerned about jobs, there’s two EZ pass lanes there now that are not manned by staff… so replacing them with fast lanes does nothing to adversely affect workers. Usually there is only 1 of 2 non-EZ pass booths open at these things, and that will continue to be the case.

  • Chew H Bird

    35 toll takers for 10 years? What about 20 years? Or 30 years? With retirement and insurance costs? The world is automating and Maine is significantly behind the times. Drive through toll booths in other states and you may receive an invoice for payment rather than stopping and some states don’t even have an option for manual toll collection. The writing has been on the wall for many years and it is time we tightened out belts and joined the rest of the world in creating a more efficient toll collection system. BTW: A Maine contractor is performing the work…

  • PKM

    The fast lanes will be safer for the toll takers left at the toll plaza and the traveling public. If I have to explain why then you won’t agree.

  • 101indianscout

    Can’t wait until Maine joins Massachusetts in having total automation. Really, should we have to pay 40K per year for a cashier?