As part of its Eastside Corridor Tolling study of I-405 and SR 167, WashDOT will hold public meetings next week on Aug. 18, 19 and 20 in Auburn, Bellevue and Renton. Due to increased population and employment over recent decades, the north-south highway corridor of I-405 and SR 167 serving suburban cities south and east of Seattle already suffers major peak hour congestion which would worsen without intervention as growth continues. Up to two (electronic, variably-priced) express toll lanes in each direction are being contemplated for I-405 along with the addition of another lane in each direction to SR 167, each of those likely to be similarly managed.
Slight decreases in traffic congestion due to the economic downturn are no reason to curtail aggressive transportation planning for looming population and employment growth in major metro regions. Despite the most fervent wishes of some planners, metro region growth in coming years will continue to be more away from, than to, high-density urban neighborhoods. This is due to due to several factors. For one, first- and second-ring suburbs have become regional employment centers, and cities in their own right. They are where people increasingly work, shop, play – and if finances permit, live. Examples in Central Puget Sound include Bellevue and Redmond to the east of Seattle, and (more affordable) Kent and Federal Way to the city’s south. Second, there Read More ›
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 ›
Construction began last week on a High Occupancy and Toll (HOT) lane to serve carpoolers, transit and – for a price varying by miles travelled and time of day – solo drivers, on a 14-mile stretch of southbound I-680 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The highway connects the jobs-rich Silicon Valley region with populous East Bay communities to the north. Electronic tolling will be employed, using transponders and overhead gantries. Carpoolers will cover their onboard transponders to avoid being charged. Some commuters are expected to save 30 minutes in the express lane, while congestion will be eased in the general use lanes as well. It’s all part of a much broader, 25-year, $6.1 billion toll-financed plan to build, operate Read More ›
The Washington State Department of Transportation last spring began a four-year pilot project to see how High Occupancy and Toll (HOT) lanes would work on a nine-mile stretch of State Route 167 in the near-south suburban part of the Seattle region, from Renton to Auburn. Carpoolers and transit use the fast lanes for free, solo drivers pay a sliding-scale fee based on current congestion. It’s all electronic, with gantries and transponders, not a toll booth in sight, thank goodness. Prices can range from 50 cents to $9 on SR 167’s HOT lanes, but have tended toward the lower end of the scale so far. The aim is to keep traffic flowing at 45 mph or higher at least 90 percent Read More ›
I had a telling conversation with an old friend several months ago, a devoted environmentalist who’s a community college biology teacher living south of San Francisco in a pleasant small town abutting the Pacific. I don’t recall how it came up, but she declared, “We’ve just got to get more people out of their cars.” Then came a pregnant pause, followed by her admission that of course, because of where they lived and worked and their packed daily schedules, she and her husband drove themselves and their children everywhere. I’ve been thinking about this lately because, well, the roads are still chock full of cars and trucks, and despite an uptick in transit and bicycle use, traffic is still congested Read More ›
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 ›
With the recent meltdown of the New York City cordon pricing plan, Puget Sound is moving to the forefront of innovative transportation planning — if our region can get its act together. The success of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, adoption by the Legislature with support from the Governor of a tolling policy for the State Route 520 floating bridge, and the pending State Route 167 HOT lane pilot project combine to fuel possibilities for a strategic pairing of HOT lanes and bus rapid transit in the 405 corridor; in reconfigured I-5 express lanes; and in other critical corridors. But to implement these and other roads and transit measures will take real money and a single point of accountability, namely a Read More ›