Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Traffic and Tolls

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

I was sucked into a minor traffic jam as I tried to leave the Air Base tonight, a rarity on Kadena.  It took eight minutes to navigate the final half mile to the gate.

Forty years ago traffic off of the bases was much worse than it is now.  Today I can motor up and down Highway 58 with relative ease, but that certainly wasn't the case back in the day.  True, there are undoubtedly many more people driving on Okinawa than there were then, but today there is a "toll" road that gets people up and down the island quickly without any of those pesky stoplights.

The Okinawan government is still experimenting with how to best use its toll road.  As the name implies, there was originally a charge (toll) to use this expressway, but the government discovered rather quickly that most people didn't like paying the toll and kept using the free Highway 58.  Earlier this year, about the time I arrived on island, the government decided to conduct an experiment and remove the toll from the toll road. Apparently that has drawn people off of Highway 58 and made that traffic run smoother.

So now the problem is apparently solved.  Cheaper is better - at least on Okinawa!

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