Matt Simpson
It would be wonderful if everyone took into account the full social consequences of their actions before making a decision to act. Almost every action you take has some effect on someone other than yourself. And you probably don't completely take that into account. Consider, for example, your decision to take Eager to Hanley to cross over highway 40. This imposes costs on everyone who must line up behind you in traffic. And, as the Post-Dispatch notes, the traffic is terrible ... and confusing:

On most days, getting from Eager to Hanley is a guessing game for drivers unfamiliar with the intersection. Figuring out which lane leads where causes some drivers to cut over at the last minute, triggering road rage.

Hanley Road is one of the most traveled streets in the county, with more than 50,000 vehicles using the stretch near Highway 40 daily, according to the county.

An ideal solution would force drivers to take into account the costs they impose on each other when they drive through congested areas, while also providing an incentive for firms to provide alternatives or improvements to the route. Tolls are about as close to that ideal as you can get. If drivers were forced to pay a small fee to cross the highway at Eager and Hanley when it is congested, many of them would find alternate routes or perhaps try to cross when there is less congestion. This would relieve the congestion and provide a quicker route for those who were willing to pay for it.

The tolls would also send a clear signal to anyone who provides transportation services, both governments and firms: If you can provide an alternate route or means of crossing the highway, or improve the intersection, you can make a tidy profit.

It looks like it's a bit too late for tolls at Hanley and 40, though:

St. Louis County and Missouri transportation officials announced Monday an agreement to add the intersection to the $535 million Highway 40 (Interstate 64) rebuild. The intersection that leads to dozens of stores and restaurants will be rebuilt as a "jug handle" intersection, eliminating left turns to and from Eager.

Perhaps next time, transportation officials will keep our work in mind when deciding how to fund their next project.

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Matt Simpson