Smart ‘Crete

“From now on, when we build something out of concrete, it will probably be wired for power and communications. Electronic sensors will be embedded right into bridges, interchanges, and tunnels. This “talking concrete” will emit information on capacity, crash pre-cursors, mobility options, and maintenance issues before they become problems. Drivers will be able to pay tolls and fees electronically. Worldwide, machine-to-machine connectivity will mitigate the human factors that currently limit infrastructure safety and efficiency. Instead of relying solely on the federal trust fund, people will pay for transportation as a utility based on usage.”

An interesting insight from a civil engineering periodical I ran across today. (Sorry, no link.) While much of the Libertarian platform seems to have gone down in flames, this idea seems to have caught on in certain circles. Here in the D.C. area they’ve constructed two new toll roads in the past 5 years- one an expansion of the I-495 Beltway in Virginia, and the other a completely new road, the ICC in Maryland, which joins I-95 and I-270. Both use electronic-only tolling, and vary toll rates based on traffic, time of day, and other factors.

I can’t say that I’m a fan. Having grown up around the NYS Thruway, I heard all the stories about how when it was built, the politicans claimed the tolls would go away over time as the road was paid for.

The Thruway opened in 1954.

Open your pockets, motorists! Speed cameras, red light cameras, gas taxes, insurance, registration, licenses, inspections… and soon, a toll plaza at every driveway!

4 Responses to “Smart ‘Crete”

  1. BrianN says:

    I wish they would do all electronic tolling here, it’s just stupid to make everybody stop to pay a $1.25 just to go over a bridge.

  2. Pitt says:

    You could pay them in electrons from your Smugmobile.

  3. BrianN says:

    I do, it’s the people who don’t that are the problem.

  4. matt says:

    I don’t mind paying the tolls, but it would be nice if the Thruway could do it like the highway around Toronto — use cameras and license plate recognition to assign tolls automatically and just mail each motorist a bill at the end of the month. The cameras are already in place, for heaven’s sake. Why waste time and money paying someone to sit in a lexan box full of exhaust fumes?

    Then guys like Brian wouldn’t have to wait in line behind dinosaurs like me who still pay cash for their tolls.

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