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6:31 pm EDT 87°F (31°C) in Chesapeake, VA
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I am sitting here in the Hampton Roads area after coming down here last night to pick up a load that never materialized. When I arrived and gave the load number to the security guard on duty, I was told that there was no record at all of such a load. So, instead of spending my weekend driving down to Tampa, FL, it looks as though I’ll be sitting here. If I have nothing better to do tomorrow, I may consider a not-exactly-authorized (but not really prohibited, either) trip over to Virginia Beach and back, to finish off the rest of Interstate 64 that I have never yet driven.
Thankfully, it appears that after more than three years of having to put up with my company’s refusal to reimburse Ohio Turnpike and Indiana Toll Road tolls, I will finally get relief on September 1. Especially since December 2004, when the Ohio Turnpike Commission (OTC) used its regulatory authority to buck Ohio law by instituting a uniform 65-mph (105 km/h) speed limit for all vehicles (and also reduced truck tolls approximately 25% at the same time), the Turnpike has become the better way to get across Ohio in a truck. In fact, just on my most recent trip, heading from southwestern Michigan to central Virginia, I spent $31 to cross Ohio, using the entire 241-mile length of the Turnpike. (I have always used the Indiana Toll Road instead of U.S. Route 20, because U.S. 20 goes through all kinds of towns on either side of its South Bend-Mishawaka-Elkhart freeway bypass.)
I am able to deduct non-reimbursed business expenses, including tolls which I must pay in cash, on my federal tax return every year. However, this obviously doesn’t recoup the money I am actually paying out — it merely exempts me from being taxed on my own money which I used to pay the tolls. Since so much of our freight seems to move along the Interstate 80 and Interstate 90 corridors, there are weeks where I can easily spend $100 or more on Ohio and Indiana tolls! Just one trip in one direction, between Indiana State Road 39 at LaPorte and the Ohio/Pennsylvania state line, runs $42.25 at the maximum gross truck weight of 80,000 lbs. (36,227 kg). (I always use Interstate 94, U.S. 20, and S.R. 39 from Gary to LaPorte, IN, to save money on an unnecessary 28-mile (45 km) stretch of the Toll Road that is closely paralleled by the aforementioned free roads.)
Now, if we can only get rid of some of the other stupid toll restrictions, life would be peachy. If this is true, and they are going to start reimbursing Ohio and Indiana tolls, the next one to hit would be Florida. Get a load of this: company policy only permits reimbursement of Florida’s Turnpike south of Exit 71 (Sawgrass Expwy/Deerfield Beach) — along the stretch where the Turnpike is closely paralleled by the free Interstate 95, Palmetto Expressway, and U.S. Route 1! Jesus Christ, how dumb can you get? Any idiot can look at a map and see that the stretch that should be reimbursed is the one between Wildwood and Fort Pierce, where no fast, useful four-lane route parallels the Turnpike. (Ever tried U.S. 192 through Kissimmee and St. Cloud? What a gigantic pain in the ass …)
Oh well, I’ll probably just end up playing a fair bit of poker, doing some work on this site, and generally wasting time until some time on Monday …