Letter: Tolling the targeted base users of canyon roads makes sense

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Traffic was brisk in Little Cottonwood Canyon Friday, Feb. 5, after an overnight storm dropped some snow at the resorts. Phase 2 of the Mountain Accord process is being launched. Its emphasis will be to deal with existing traffic problems in the two Cottonwood canyons.

I attended the Senate debate about SB71, Road Tolls Provisions, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, and its proposal to create a tollway project in Little Cottonwood Canyon (State Route 210). Many drivers are utilizing this road for skiing and other forms of recreation and are being subsidized by taxpayers. As this road costs an unusual amount of money to maintain, this toll-focused form of taxation based on those who are actually using it is something I support.

This may result in some short-term discomfort with the tollway fees, but people need to understand the cost of UDOT’s expenditures allocated in infrastructure improvements elsewhere. Regardless of the public’s opinion in discomfort when it comes to a matter of convenience, the road should be proportionally taxed to its own derived value.

Gas taxes have never been a good proxy for roads. Tolling the targeted base users of canyon roads provides an opportunity to collect revenue for maintenance from those who are actually using them, allowing for the route to cover itself and provide incentives for taking public transit or carpooling.

Tollways give you a choice. You’re welcome to find the alternative route. You don’t have to take the toll road.

Jakob Hernandez, Salt Lake City