To the Editor:
The Eldamain Road bridge has come in under budget at $35 million. One lane each way to connect Route 30 and Route 71 and reduce Route 47 traffic through Yorkville.
In my third of a century driving in the Fox River area, I have yet to encounter much traffic on bridges west of Route 47 – Fox River Drive parallels Eldamain – maybe one car a minute, two hours a day, and 10 an hour, 10 hours a day – 220 a day each lane? 55,000 a year per lane?
In past decades, private sector companies built toll roads and bridges based on traffic projections at various tolls. Few were built. At 6% interest, 30-year bonds to pay off and maintenance cost of 2% of initial cost, the toll on Eldamain bridge would be $30 per trip. What are the traffic projections? We have eight bridges over the river just in Kendall County south of Route 30.
This bridge was first proposed in 1998 or so and has come to fruition by some arcane combination of political influence, fund availability and perceived need.
Suppose projects were evaluated as the private sector does: What return on investment would be achieved from yet another bridge? Or rather, if existing bridges had appropriate tolls, what would the new bridge be worth? We have license plate readers [that could] levy tolls to credit cards. For that matter, we could toll Route 47 and other roads. Roads and bridges should be financially, not politically, decided upon. And charging what the market will bear is how to efficiently limit emissions.
It was political allocation of capital inefficiency that caused the 1991 collapse of the USSR.
Alphonse I. Johnson
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