Congestion Pricing

Congestion Pricing, Tolls Loom For Puget Sound

With the defeat by Puget Sound taxpayers of a multi-billion-dollar roads and transit ballot measure Nov. 6, momentum is growing for tolling and congestion pricing to help ease traffic congestion in the Seattle region, as this news and opinion round-up shows. In a Puget Sound Transportation Action Plan just unveiled, Cascadia Center also accents tolling and congestion pricing, along with centralized regional decision-making on transportation; more private investment in roads and transit; more bus rapid transit and commuter rail; an enhanced network of suburban park-and-ride lots; plus more government fleet purchases of – and fuel infrastructure development for – flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Puget Sound hesitantly stands on the cusp of allocating more rationally its scarce road capacity. Tolling Read More ›

Puget Sound Mobility Requires Public-Private Partnerships

The Tacoma News Tribune reports this morning that the crumbling, 94-year-old Murray Morgan Bridge has been ordered closed by State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, raising strong city council concerns about access to Tacoma’s tidelands areas for medical or industrial emergency response. A 2004 estimate pegs rehab costs at $77 million, but only $25 million has been secured to date, the TNT reports. Current road and transit needs for the Puget Sound Region total $66 billion over the next two decades, according to a transportation governance commission created by the Washington State Legislature and Governor Christine Gregoire. Those needs are likely to grow. The population of four-county metro Seattle will rise from the 2000 U.S. Census level of 3.276 million by Read More ›

State Auditor’s Report Details Congestion-Busting Agenda

A report issued yesterday by Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag’s office urges the state to more aggressively attack highway congestion, beginning with a formal declaration that congestion is a top transportation policy priority. The Seattle Times reported on the findings today. The transportation performance audit, prepared for Sonntag’s office by Talbot, Korvola & Warwick of Portland, goes on to make more than 20 specific policy recommendations. These include urging that the state legislature should: “empower a single body – either the Department of Transportation or a regional transportation entity for the Puget Sound Region – to allow for a more integrated approach to planning for congestion reduction:” “choose/identify transportation projects based on congestion reduction rather than other agendas;” “implement new Read More ›

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 Read More ›

Tolling Goes Mainstream

Approaching 2008, tolling has entered the mainstream and begun to influence transportation decisions throughout the country. At the same time – as Forbes magazine notes – transponder technology is enabling higher-speed, automated “open road” tolling, foreshadowing an eventual end to the era of tollbooths. Recent news reports underscore the increased momentum for tolling – although often the pathway to implementation is challenging, and some proposals pencil out while others ultimately do not. Let’s survey the tolling landscape. With the state facing a projected 30-year, $74 billion shortfall in needed road funding, Georgia Board of Transportation member David Doss has unveiled a plan which includes a 10-year statewide one percent sales tax hike to raise $22 billion for transportation, and which Read More ›

$6 Billion Columbia Crossing Bridge Project Will Require Tolling

An editorial yesterday by Vancouver, Washington’s daily newspaper, The Columbian, celebrates support voiced during a Portland-region visit last week by U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, U.S. House Transportation Committee Chairman, for the I-5 Columbia Crossing bridge improvement project. It’s a major regional priority due to congestion and safety problems on the current I-5 Interstate Bridge connecting Clark County, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Columbia Crossing and other projects bundled into a three-state proposal from California, Oregon and Washington last week won a $15 million federal “Corridors Of The Future” grant, the bulk of which is essentially planning money for innovative approaches to financing the up-to-$6 billion cost of Columbia Crossing. Project options include replacing the current six-lane bridge with a wider one; Read More ›

New Grant For Bridge Rebuild Prods Regional Tolling Debate

News that federal DOT officials have accepted the offer by Puget Sound transportation leaders to toll a new State Route 520 bridge by September of 2009 in exchange for $139 million in new bridge-rebuild cash from the feds will accelerate a much needed debate about the eventual need for system-wide tolling here. This dialog is coming despite two state gas tax hikes in recent years, and a hard-to-get-your-mind-around $17.8 billion regional Roads and Transit vote on November 6. The new federal money for rebuilding the unsafe and congested SR 520 bridge – money explicitly conditioned upon supplemental tolling of the bridge – comes in response to a successful Urban Partnership grant application to USDOT from a team including WSDOT, the Read More ›

“Shadow Tolling” Eyed For I-595 Express Lanes In Broward County

Add the concept of “shadow tolling” to the roster of innovative road financing methods. Introduced in the United Kingdom some ten years ago, the concept of shadow tolling has crossed the Atlantic and is being considered by the Florida Department of Transportation in its I-595 corridor project. The state is inviting the private sector to help finance, build and operate a 10.5-mile stretch of elevated toll lanes intended to relieve congestion in the busy I-595 corridor that connects I-75 with the Florida Turnpike and I-95 in Broward County. I-595 currently carries about 180,000 vehicles/day in the busiest stretch of the corridor, and the volume is expected to rise to 300,000 by 2035. The state is ready to commit $900 million Read More ›

Cascadia Unveils Tolling Proposal for I-5, & SR 99 Tunnel

In a Puget Sound Business Journal op-ed published this morning, our Cascadia Center’s Director Bruce Agnew posits that tolling and private investment could pay for replacement of the shaky Alaskan Way Viaduct on State Route 99 in Seattle – and for reconfiguration of badly-congested Interstate 5 in the city, as well. Neither are included in a multi-billion-dollar roads and transit ballot measure facing Central Puget Sound voters in November. …two crucial transportation projects relevant to the Minnesota tragedy are partially on hold — replacement of the central waterfront section of Alaska Way Viaduct on State Route 99, and full funding for reconstruction of the 40-year-old stretch of Interstate 5 from Northgate to Tukwila. ….any notion that the viaduct’s 110,000 daily Read More ›

Congestion Pricing in Manhattan: What Comes Next?

The New York State legislature has taken the first step toward the possible implementation of congestion pricing in Manhattan by voting to establish a “New York City Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission.” The bill establishes a rigorous timeline for the development, review and approval of a preliminary traffic mitigation plan advocated by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which would charge drivers entering Manhattan south of 86th Street an $8 toll between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays, with much of the proceeds going to fund transit improvements. Under the new legislation, April 1, 2008 is the target date to give the City the green light to proceed with implementation of the traffic mitigation plan. The vote was 122-16 in Read More ›