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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 2017, Bruce has served as Director of the ACES NW Network based in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington. The Network is dedicated to the acceleration of ACES (Autonomous-Connected-Electric-Shared) technology in Northwest transportation for the movement of people and goods. ACES is co-chaired by Tom Alberg, Co-Founder and managing partner of Madrona Venture Group in Seattle and Bryan Mistele, CEO/Co-Founder of INRIX global technology in Kirkland. In 2022, Bruce became the director of the newly created Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Regional Infrastructure Accelerator. Initial funding for the Accelerator has come from the Build America Bureau of the USDOT. PNWER is a statutory public/private nonprofit created in 1991 by the U.S. states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan and the territories of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. PNWER has 16 cross-border working groups for common economic and environmental initiatives.