I spent June through September 2017 in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts – my first visit to each state! These are the New England Chronicles.

Maine’s Installment Is Here.

Read About Vermont Here.

You Can Find New Hampshire Here.

Get Massachusetts Here.

Ask Not To Whom To Pay Tolls; The Toll’s For Thee

Have you ever noticed the worst roads in America are tollways? You know, the turnpikes you are paying a direct tax to travel on? A bit ironic, but it makes some sense – most tollways are in the East, pounded by snow, plows, and salt in wintertime. What a guide in Minnesota once quipped holds equally true for New England, “There are two seasons: Winter, and Road Maintenance.”

If you’re coming from the West in a rig, keep your wallet out once you hit Illinois heading east, because you will pay hefty tolls to get to New England. Illinois is the worst, because there seems to be no rhyme or reason for the short distances between booths and the amount of the tolls. I paid as little as $4 and as much as $27 per toll in Illinois. This is the second time I’ve driven through Illinois, and when I do it again I will have an electronic transponder. The time it takes to stop at each booth, and squeezing my way through the booth lanes, mirrors in mortal peril, is vexing. States like Texas and Washington, that mail you a bill based on your license plate, are wonderful, but save Massachusetts, none of the states from Illinois to Maine have such an option.

Tolls seem fewer in Indiana and Ohio. By the time you get to Pennsylvania and New York, taking a ticket on one end and paying on the other is so much more civilized.

I thought about traversing only toll-free roads, and from Erie, Pennsylvania to Albany, New York, I took an alternative route to avoid Interstate 90. But, by and large, staying off the interstate takes much more time, and exponentially increases the chances of encountering a bridge, trellis, or railroad right-of-way for which I’m over-weight or over-height, especially in much older New England; can you say covered bridges?

All told, I spent over $200 in tolls between Illinois and Maine.