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Prospectus Blog Gas Tax Revenue Drop Will Continue, And Hasten Tolling

The Seattle Times has a story this morning about new projections of a Washington state gas tax revenue shortfall of $1.5 billion, and the added impetus this gives to tolling as means of funding crucial transportation projects. The story says the expectation of state forecasters is for continued high gas prices and constrained demand, and that although the revenue shortfall is relatively small now, it is a real problem in the long term.
But that is only half of it. As we learned at our technology conference at Microsoft this year, the Prius is the fastest selling model for Toyota in the Northwest. On deck for Toyota, GM, Ford and other manufacturers are plug-in electric hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) which use electricity for their primary energy source and non-petroleum-based alternative fuels for back up. 2009 is the most likely date for mass market distribution for these vehicles – which coincides with the date the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to go bankrupt.
With our commitment to renewable energy resources and tradition of hydropower, the Northwest could be the first area in the country to eventually power its transportation sector oil-free.
So yes, by all means bring on toll roads and more HOT lanes and public-private partnerships to help fill the transportation funding hole that will continue to grow due to dwindling state and federal gas tax revenues. At the same time, flexible, fast and convenient public transit can help, such as bus rapid transit and – in locales like Puget Sound – cutting edge low-wake, high-speed water taxis. So can vehicle trip reduction strategies including employer-provided buses, flexible carpooling, and telework.
Finally, let’s acknowledge that scores of drivers and freight haulers are still going to be on the road, and help them “green the highway.” In part, that means retrofitting park-and-ride lots with electric plug-ins; expediting government fleet purchases of PHEVs; and electrifying truck stops, port container storage yards, and rest areas on major Interstate highways such as I-5.
TECHNORATI TAGS: <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/GAS TAX, WASHINGTON STATE, U.S., TOLLING, HOT LANES, TRANSPORTATION FUNDING, PLUG-IN HYBRID ELECTRIC VEHICLES, TRANSIT, GREEN HIGHWAYS"rel="tag"GAS TAX, WASHINGTON STATE, U.S., TOLLING, HOT LANES, TRANSPORTATION FUNDING, PLUG-IN HYBRID ELECTRIC VEHICLES, TRANSIT, GREEN HIGHWAYS

Bruce Agnew

Director, Cascadia Center
Since 1993, Bruce Agnew has been the Policy Director of Seattle-based Discovery Institute's Cascadia Center. The Cascadia Center is a strategic alliance from Vancouver, BC, to Eugene, Oregon, promoting high speed passenger rail, Interstate-5 freight mobility, seamless border crossings, bi-national and bi-state tourism marketing, and sustainable community development. From 1987-93, Mr. Agnew was Chief of Staff for U.S. Representative John Miller from Washington state's first district. Before his congressional service, Bruce Agnew was elected to two terms on the Snohomish County Council, and served as President of the Puget Sound Regional Council in 1985. He is a former member of the Citizen Oversight Panel for Sound Transit, and is a member of the Regional Freight Mobility Roundtable. Mr. Agnew is a 1974 graduate of Stanford University, and a 1977 graduate of U.C. Berkeley, Law School.