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Take Ticket, Pay Toll; By the numbers; iPhone Photographers; and more

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Shawna Gibbs photo

Take Ticket, Pay Toll

After a 17-year toll holiday, it appears that Western Mass. drivers will again be lining up to hand out money at the booths along the Mass Pike between the Valley and West Stockbridge as of October 15. The change is mandated under the transportation bill passed last month.

One bit of good news: the tolls will be no higher than they were in 1990, six years before Gov. Bill Weld eliminated them for passenger cars using Exits 1 through 6. The total for a car traveling from Exit 1 to Exit 6, the exit for Springfield, would be $1.75. Another possible consolation for Valley residents: the transportation bill will give the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority several million dollars more than it would have received if the Legislature hadn’t passed the bill over the governor’s veto; some of the money may be used to begin improving PVTA service between the Springfield area and UMass (“PVTA: The Right Connections,” August 8, 2013).

Looking farther down the road, the state Department of Transportation wants to manage the entire toll system electronically within two years. Drivers would have to have transponders to use the Turnpike, or have the toll billed to the car’s owner after an automated camera takes a picture of the license plate.

The restoration of tolls on the western end of the Turnpike is a result of a provision in the new transportation law that requires more money to be raised from tolls. The state estimates that it will realize $12 to $15 million if tolls are reinstated between Springfield and Stockbridge, the last exit before the Turnpike joins the New York State Thruway. Active toll booths at the western exits would catch traffic from other states traveling east off the Thruway, as well as Massachusetts residents using the first six Turnpike exits.

But before the reinstatement of tolls is final, the transportation law requires two public hearings. One will be held at Lee High School September 10 at 6 p.m., the other in Springfield at the MassMutual Center September 12 at 6 p.m.

 

From Our Blogs:

Standing in the Shadows: Learning to be a Bad Parent Takes Time

On a rainy Tuesday, here’s the news: the boy is back from camp. He had a marvelous time. It’s delightful to have him back, but honestly, I was so sure he’d be in camp heaven it was easy to have him away. In fact, even though he’s delightful to have around, it was nice to miss him a little and to see how much his small sister soaked up the pace that could be hers—rather than the trying to keep up one she tends to keep (a frustrating exercise in pacing quite often). I enjoyed feeling relaxed about his absence.

 

By the numbers:

33: Percentage of growth in photovoltaic capacity installed in the first quarter of this year over the amount installed in the first quarter of 2012. Solar power is a huge growth industry, now employing more than 119,000 Americans, more than work in the coal industry if workers in coal-fired power plants aren’t counted.

 

iPhone Photographers Can Be Artists, Too

Early cell phone pictures left a lot to be desired by comparison with photos taken by cameras, but every generation of iPhone and other communications devices takes better pictures than the one before it, according to Josh Farr of the Vermont Center for Photography in Brattleboro. The Center is currently hosting Phone.tography, an exhibit of cell phone pictures taken by people from southern Vermont, the Valley, other states and even countries are distant as Holland and Finland. Says Farr “It blew us away, what we got. We got people from all over the world.”

Some entries reach the level of art photography; in other cases, the casual, ephemeral character of the shot adds, paradoxically, a charm and interest of its own to the picture.

 

Worth Quoting:

“Given the fact that my suggestions represent the interests of the middle class of this country and not powerful corporate special interests, I have no problem with making them public.”

—U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in response to the Senate Finance Committee’s request that senators submit proposals for tax breaks to be preserved in the reformed tax code. The committee promised to keep the proposals secret for the next 50 years.

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