Talking Corridor Tolling

Original Article

The first thing you need to know about KIRO-FM 97.3 News Talk host Dori Monson is that when he says he’s “filled full of Diet Coke, caffeine and righteous rage,” he’s not kidding. Okay, maybe he’s exaggerating a bit, showman that he is. Let’s just say he’s a high-energy guy and a strenuous advocate of fiscal accountability and limited taxes, as I was reminded yesterday in an hour-long session with Dori and some of his many listeners. We were discussing a proposal for a seamless system of tolled express lanes on the Puget Sound region’s highways and major state routes, that I outlined in a piece recently published at Crosscut, titled, “Flexible Tolling: The Key To Solving Our Congestion.” It was then highlighted again, the day before yesterday, in a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article by their transportation reporter Aubrey Cohen. (Note the comments from State Treasurer Jim McIntyre, among other things, in Cohen’s piece.)

On the show I outlined why we at Cascadia Center believe a connected system of tolled express lanes on major highways and state routes is one key part a of a future-facing strategy to help ensure regional mobility, transportation choices and economic security, as Central Puget Sound’s population continues to grow – by about 40 percent over the next 30 years.

Here’s the MP3 file of the hour; and here’s the full transcript. For now, I’ll leave you with my closing thoughts to Dori after what diplomats would call “a frank exchange of views.” This has to do with the distinction between tolling only a few specific facilities, such as bridges and tunnels, versus a more comprehensive approach based on highway corridors.

Are bits and pieces better? Or is the seamless approach better? Remember the old HOV lanes? They’d end, and you’d be frustrated. Well, if we’re going to have tolled express lanes, it should be in a continuous, seamless system. We’ll get more bang for our buck, and better service.

Thanks, Dori.