CONGESTION PRICING

Eat Your Way Across Town On Light Rail

Transit News Here’s a one way to market light rail: highlighting the ethnic eats along the route. The new Gold Line in L.A. has mad culinary appeal. In Seattle, Sound Transit’s new “Link” light rail line might also benefit from a promotional campaign highlighting adjacent dining and other neighborhood attractions. Just one of many points of interest: In between the Othello and Edmunds stops, and right across from the Link tracks at Graham Street, is Joy Palace, one of the region’s best restaurants for Hong Kong style Chinese entrees, and the bite-sized savories and sweets known as dim sum. Take it from me, or Yelp fans of the place. In the same urban mall is a wondrous Asian supermarket, Viet Read More ›

SR 520 Funding Gap Now Pegged At $2.38 Billion

At a meeting in Seattle last week, lawmakers heard that the funding gap for replacing the storm- and seismically-vulnerable, crowded four-lane SR 520 bridge across Lake Washington can be shaved from $2.6 billion to $2.38 billion through a sales tax deferral of $220 million. They also had a look at the current menu of gap-closers. It includes more borrowing against electronic tolling revenues, plus higher toll rates on the 520 bridge, and especially, tolling of the parallel I-90 bridge. As ever, tolling’s a flash point, but it needn’t be ugly. It can equitable, and farsighted. Metro Puget Sound needs a comprehensive regional highway corridor electronic tolling plan, typically with express “HOT” lanes aside free lanes, and higher rates at peak hours.

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WashDOT’s Paula Hammond: Tolled Express Lanes Key

Corridor-length Approach Is Favored; I-405/SR 167 Seen As Model Reporter Newspapers covers East and South King County, and has produced a lengthy special section – also available online – delving into the region’s surface transportation challenges. In an in interview for “Navigate King County’s Future,” Washington Department of Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond talks about funding, with an emphasis on beginning to to add variable-rate express toll lanes for the full length of major highway corridors such as I-405/SR 167. She also alludes to the next-generation approach of charging vehicles for all miles driven, with on-board units. In the future, you could be paying for your right to use roads the same way you pay your utilities — a bill based Read More ›

Crosscut: Time To Go “All In” On Tolls

Yesterday in Crosscut, the Northwest online daily journal of politics and public policy, I published a piece titled “Time to Go ‘All In’ On Tolls.” It starts this way: The four-lane Evergreen Point Floating Bridge across Lake Washington on State Route 520 is a relic of a bygone era, congested and disaster prone. How urgent is the need for a planned six-lane replacement? The Washington State Department of Transportation has gone so far as to graphically model on YouTube how the bridge might buckle under duress, threatening lives and paralyzing the region’s highway network. And is the region stepping up to the challenge? Less than half the funding is secured. The Seattle-side configuration is still being debated. More broadly, the project begs a Read More ›

Four Steps To A Nationwide Vehicle Mileage Tax

Editor’s Note: Cascadia Prospectus is pleased to welcome as a contributor Bern Grush, chief scientist and founder of SkyMeter Corp., who in periodic posts will share insights on road user charging technology and other aspects of surface transportation and system pricing. Worldwide, the need to toll roads is increasing, whether for sustainable funding, transportation demand management, or emissions management. While this includes the usual toll by segment approach using radio frequency identification (RFID) or dedicated short-wave radio communication (DSRC) many transportation planners are looking to wide-area methods such as Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in the United States and Time, Distance and Place (TDP) in the EU. This trend will almost inevitably continue, with the end result approaching universal tolling and Read More ›

Team Obama Rejects Gas Tax Hike; Boosting User Fee Prospects

Reuters reports that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a senate committee the administration of President Barack Obama will not sign off on any hike in the increasingly ineffective federal gas tax, though Congress may propose that. LaHood’s declaration signaled that the Obama administration will take the same stance as former President George W. Bush. Revenue generated by the tax of 18.4 cents on each gallon of gas sold in the country goes into the Highway Trust Fund to fix U.S. roads and public transit. That fund has already been depleted once and Congress had to pass emergency measures last summer to replenish it. The tax has not been raised since the early 1990s… The Bush administration also opposed a Read More ›

Include I-205 In I-5 Columbia Crossing Mobility Council Planning

Columbia River Crossing is the $4.2 billion project to replace two old, crowded and dangerous bridges connecting Washington and Oregon on Interstate 5 (pictured below left, courtesy of KATU-TV Portland). The old structures (one goes northbound-only, the other southbound) are to be supplanted with a new, two-way variably-tolled bridge, that will also extend Portland’s light rail system to Vancouver, Wash., add bike and pedestrian pathways across the river, and fix six devilish bridge corridor interchanges near the crossing. It’s been announced recently that the bridge will be 12 lanes total, then the highway will narrow back to six. The wider bridge will be built to help handle crossing volume fed by longer-haul traffic and also by local and regional drivers, Read More ›