But Lessons Learned Will Bring Changes
Andrew Bary’s recent piece “The Long and Binding Road,” in Barron’s has been widely noticed. “The credit market collapse and political opposition have all but killed the U.S. highway privatization trend,” the respected commentator opined in his article. What is more, Bary wrote, the Indiana Toll Road deal “was one of the most illogical prices paid for any major piece of transportation infrastructure during the bubble period of 2005 to 2007,” suggesting that Macquarie made a huge miscalculation. Gov. Mitch Daniel’s comment (“It was the best deal since Manhattan was sold for beads…”) did not help, implying that the State got the better of the naive Macquarie. The article concluded, “for toll road investors, what had promised to be a pleasant ride has turned into a painful trip,” citing Macquarie’s shares tumbling 50% in the past year.
But Lessons Learned Will Bring Changes
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 ›
Clinton, Obama Co-sponsors The problem of infrastructure deficit received prominent attention from the governors and state officials meeting in Washington during the month of February. But aside from agreeing that the needs for infrastructure funding are great, that present resources are inadequate, and that earmarks are a poor way to deal with the problem, few solutions were offered as to how to meet the revenue shortfalls. That’s why a March 11 hearing by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs took on special significance. The hearing focused on a bill sponsored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) to create a National Infrastructure Bank (S. 1926). Described by Sen Dodd as a Read More ›
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 ›
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 ›