Freeway far from free

Good Friday is traditionally a day for Christians to reflect on the nature of sacrifice, so perhaps it's only fitting that today is the day that the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) expects you to begin to dig deeper into your wallet to use the 91 Freeway.  The toll for traveling eastward on the Express Lanes will be hitting a new high from 4-5pm on Fridays-- $9.50-- starting this afternoon.  Those heading westward (ho!) will hit their new peak price-- $4.05-- during 7-8am hour from Monday to Thursday.  If you can delay your commute till the dark hours between 10pm and 5am, you can still travel the 10 miles of the 91 for the bargain basement price of $1.15.

The new prices place the toll road squarely among the nation's most expensive.  As the Times points out, "Denver-area motorists pay $9.75 on Interstate 470, but that gets them nearly 50 miles."  Motorists on the 91 only get 10 miles of road for their toll, so once again it's the price per square foot of OC real estate that's a killer.  But the OCTA claims it has no other choice-- the toll road is simply too popular, and jacking up the price should thin out the traffic, and make sure that the toll road continues to smoothly serve the needs of those with the greatest disposable income.  And isn't that really the OC way?

Kierkegaard felt that paradoxes were at the heart of Christianity, so just think of the price hike on this most solemn of Christian holidays as an opportunity to reflect on the paradox of something called a "freeway" being anything but free.


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