A well-made road could deeply influence the communities it served. The obvious advantage of good roads was good access; for a town not situated on a water route, a good road connected it to the outside world, allowing the import and export of goods, people and ideas.

A road owned and operated by a private turnpike company could also boost the economy of a region. Building and maintaining a road was usually done by local labor and contractors. The maintenance of a road could carry on through much of the year as it involved regrading, restoning and ditch digging. Tollkeepers, often posted every ten miles, also had to be paid, and were usually taken from a local labor pool.

Historical evidence suggests that the real value of a toll road to a community came during the winter months. During drier times of the year, many people used older, non-toll roads that were not as well maintained. Records show, however, that toll revenue went up during the times of inclement weather as travellers flocked to the safer and more comfortable roads. Thus, they seemed to have played a role early in the transportation revolution of improving the quality of economic and social life. A young Pennsylvanian woman, Deborah Logan, wrote to a family friend in the first decade of the nineteenth century that "the severe cold of three days last week has been followed by moist drizzling weather, a compleat thaw so that off the turnpike the roads are dreadful." In a separate letter, the same woman remarked cheerfully that "the turnpike is finished and we can now go to town at all times and in all weather." In 1847, a railroad promoter remarked, "It is against the policy of Americans to be locked up by ice one half of the year." The cultural significance of the toll road preceded the railroad in this venture; no longer was the farmer in the hinterlands restricted from travel and necessary trade throughout the winter months. Where there was a toll road, those who lived in the hinterlands could reach town and participate in American national life.