Category

Congestion Pricing

HOT Lanes Advance In Houston On I-10 “Katy Freeway”

Working with federal, state and regional partners, the Harris County Tollway Authority this fall will begin the final stages of implementing a plan for a total of four fully-operational High Occupancy and Toll (HOT) lanes, on both sides of a 12-mile stretch of the I-10 Katy Expressway. The highway section runs between central Houston and points west. The current, single, reversible carpool and transit, or HOV lane will make way for two managed HOT lanes in each direction. As is the case in all new tolling projects now, tolls will be assessed automatically, as traffic flows, without old-school tollbooths. Overhead gantries will electronically read transponders in vehicle windshields which are registered to drivers’ accounts. The $2.8 billion project includes additional Read More ›


Highway Congestion Pricing Advances On West Coast

Proposals for highway congestion pricing and electronic tolling advanced this week in the San Francisco Bay Area, metro Portland and Seattle-Puget Sound. Here’s a rundown. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that in the Bay Area, the Municipal Transportation Commission yesterday approved a funding plan that would establish regional High Occupancy and Toll (HOT) lanes on 800 of the region’s 1,200 miles of highway lanes by 2025. Existing and under-construction carpool, or High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, would be converted to electronically-tolled HOT lanes which would be free to HOVs, transit and motorcycles and also open to solo drivers for a fee that varies according to time of day and congestion level. In addition, new HOT lanes would be built, creating Read More ›


Steady Progress On Congestion Pricing, Tolling

Suppose electricity was free, even at hours of peak usage. Think your power supply would be reliable, then? Exactly. Now apply the same common-sense approach to highway capacity. Or consider the Environmental Defense Fund’s Transportation Director Michael Replogle, who writes in the Washington Post: Congestion pricing may be controversial to some people, but it’s inevitable. Using tolls simply to build more roads is a costly way to end up with even more traffic and pollution….Done right, congestion pricing can boost the efficiency of our existing roads, raise revenue to invest in transit, and reduce pollution that causes asthma, cancer, heart disease, impaired lung development and global warming….In the long run, congestion pricing is the only effective and economically and politically Read More ›


Gov. Kulongoski Eyes Congestion Pricing In Metro Portland

In a recent speech to the Oregon Environmental Council’s Business Forum, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski (below, right) said the transportation plan he’ll present to the 2009 state legislature will likely accent congestion pricing. It could also include a statewide low-carbon fuel standard in synch with California’s, and incentives for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. More, first from from The Oregonian. Gov. Ted Kulongoski…said he will likely advocate for rush-hour tolling and other tough measures to control traffic congestion in his 2009 appeal to the Legislature. “In plain English, tolls that vary by time of day, by location, or by congestion level, so that those who are using the highway at the most desirable time are paying more to do so,” he Read More ›


The Difference Between Cordon Pricing And Congestion Pricing

Sure, everyone called it a congestion pricing plan. But New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ambitious proposal to charge drivers $8 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street during peak hours was more about cordon pricing, literally drawing a line around downtown. Singapore, London (see map, right) and Stockholm have implemented similar plans. In contrast, the typical congestion pricing project in U.S. metro regions doesn’t impose downtown cordon fees for drivers, but focuses on specific crowded highways, with variable fees keyed to traffic levels, and thus higher charges at peak hours. A related strategy involves a split between free lanes which are often more congested, and electronically-tolled High Occupancy and Toll (HOT) lanes allowing carpools, transit and for a variable fee, solo Read More ›


Washington Legislature Advances Tolling For Puget Sound

In its election year “short session” concluded last week, the Washington state legislature took several important, albeit partial steps to advance tolling, commuter rail, passenger-only ferries and innovative transportation funding partnerships with non-government entities. Let’s review some key ’08 transportation bills that made it through both legislative chambers, and now await the signature of Gov. Christine Gregoire. ESHB 3096 (bill as passed – bill report – legislative history) has to do with the State Route 520 floating bridge connecting Seattle across Lake Washington to fast-growing Eastside business and residential centers such as Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond. The bill report reminds us that the bridge carries 115,000 vehicles and about 150,000 people per day; it is 1.5 miles long and 44 Read More ›


Tolling, Finance Innovation Vital For Infrastructure Growth

Implemented regionally, tolling and congestion pricing will be the key that unlocks the door to more efficient use of major highways in Puget Sound. Incentives for more telecommuting, carpooling, vanpooling and off-peak travel will grow substantially, as tolls and especially time-variable congestion pricing are instituted over the next few years. Tolling coupled with investment by public employee and labor union pension funds will also help close funding gaps on major road, bridge and transit projects needed to accomodate economic growth and environmental protection. Despite some political resistance, this paradigm will transform transportation infrastructure development across North America in coming years and decades. Let’s once again take a partial and recent survey of the landscape, starting with Puget Sound. Just last Read More ›


Metro Portland, The I-5 Bridge Tolls For Thee

Have you ever seen a whole lot more of the mighty Columbia River and Portland’s skyline than you really wanted to, because you were crawling on Interstate 5? C’mon, raise your hands. Well, good news. The government is here to help. And so are you and I. Probably. The Oregonian’s Dylan Rivera reports today that at a meeting yesterday of the 39-member Columbia River Crossing Task Force, tolls emerged as a likely ingredient in the recipe to fund a fix for the badly-congested Interstate Bridge corridor on I-5. The early and perhaps rose-colored estimate is that tolls would range from $1.28 each way during off-peak hours to $2.56 at peak periods. They would be collected electronically, and provide an estimated Read More ›


Gregoire Unveils Tolling Proposal For SR 520 Bridge, I-90

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire yesterday announced a proposal – which the legislature would have to approve – for tolling the S.R. 520 bridge starting next year, and also indicated preliminary support for tolling the parallel I-90 bridge across Lake Washington. All this could raise about $2 billion for replacement of the deteriorating SR 520 span, which could fail in an earthquake or severe windstorm. The Seattle Times reports. The total cost was estimated at $4.4 billion, though a new state estimate suggets the tab could be cut to $4 billion with a questionable single-pontoon design which limits future transit expansion. Some $2 billion in bridge rebuild funding is already secured. The new tolls would vary by time of day, higher Read More ›


Tolling, HOT Lanes Spread In U.S., Creep Forward In Puget Sound

Highway tolls to help raise maintenance and construction funds, and sliding-scale user fees to control peak-hour congestion are spreading across the U.S and creeping forward in central Puget Sound. In a year-end editorial, the Tacoma News Tribune highlighted the success of tolling on the new, second (southbound) Tacoma Narrows bridge (right side in adjacent photo), and the importance of tolling as a future transportation revenue source in Puget Sound: The greatest challenge facing the growing Puget Sound region is building and repairing transportation infrastructure to keep people and freight moving smoothly. But the region’s voters in November soundly rejected Proposition 1, a massive and costly roads-and-transit ballot package that, among other things, would have extended Sound Transit’s light-rail system all Read More ›