Topic

tolling

Road Tolling May Be A Necessary Evil For Vancouver

This article, published by The Star, references the Cascadia Center of Discovery Institute: A few hours south of here, Matt Rosenberg, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Cascadia Center, is making a strong case for regional tolling for the Seattle metropolitan area. Rosenberg says cities like Seattle and Vancouver need to get serious about road tolling not only to Read More ›

Ask Not for Whom The Road Tolls

This article, published by the Puget Sound Business Journal, refers to an article by Cascadia Fellow Matt Rosenberg: The Cascadia Center just posted a valuable piece about funding a replacement for the ailing State Route 520 Bridge between Seattle and the Eastside. The piece by Cascadia Fellow Matt Rosenberg highlights the $2.38 billion funding gap, and discusses the various plans to close the Read More ›

Time To Go “All In” On Tolls

Just putting tolls on the Evergreen Point Bridge is not going to cut it. Instead, the region needs to apply tolls all along the 520 corridor and broadly across our highway system. Here's an encouraging progress report. 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 more comprehensive regional tolling strategy because our bridges and highways are all connected. We can't keep doing transportation mega-projects on a disjointed, one-off basis. A key to any solution is tolling, and soon. Here and nationwide, 40 years of sizzling growth in vehicle miles traveled has left too many sections of highways, arterial roads, and bridges overburdened, in disrepair, and obsolete in the face of seismic and other hazards. Those ballyhooed federal stimulus funds were a mere drop in the bucket, amounting to less than one-quarter of what a landmark Congressional commission report says is needed annually. The per-gallon gas tax is badly failing at the federal and state levels. The federal gas tax trust fund is bankrupt, and living on bailouts. Even tripling state gas tax contributions to pending mega-projects in Washington state would do little to close wide funding gaps, state data show. A big new federal transportation bill — which may well include the first hike in the U.S. gas tax since 1993 — will help some, but not that much. (More) Read More ›

Congress Begins Grappling With New Surface Transportation Funding Bill

The current federal surface transportation funding bill expires this summer. A crucial revenue source is the federal gas tax trust fund, now chronically insolvent. The federal gas tax hasn't been raised in 16 years, and it isn't indexed to inflation. A highway system built in the 1950s and 1960s continues to wear down under heavy use, increasing funding needs for maintenance, and capacity expansion, while improved vehicle mileage has tightened the revenue flow from the per-gallon gas tax. Congress wants to roughly double the current spending plan to nearly $500 billion for the next six years. A draft House version of the new bill has been introduced, but it's unclear where the money would come from and whether the bill can be approved by the Sept. 30 deadline some key lawmakers favor. The Obama administration instead wants to develop a stop-gap funding plan and then take up the reauthorization bill - in full - 18 months later. The timing debate aside, another concern is that the draft bill would, if approved with current House language intact, impose strict federal limits on new plans for (variable-rate electronic) tolling on interstate highways and create new federal regulations on public-private partnerships (P3s) in surface transportation. Variable-rate tolling is an increasingly popular strategy used by major metro regions on state routes and interstate highways to fund important corridor improvements and control peak-hour congestion. For several decades now, the federal government has effectively - and wisely - given metro regions broad latitude in developing and implementing congestion relief policies, including tolling new lanes on interstates, and state routes, with variable rates. And regulation of transportation P3s has essentially been left to the states. As Reuters reports below on 6/25, Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood is in the reauthorization debate underscoring the need for increased emphasis on user fees (including tolling) and private investment, and holding firm against a federal gas tax hike. It's likely to be a long and winding road to the final bill, and along the way we can expect a robust conversation about transit, tolling, the ailing gas tax and even a ground-breaking proposal to tax vehicles by the mile on all roads, a strategy tested in landmark pilot programs in Oregon and metro Puget Sound. Here are key articles on the current reauthorization dialog, which we'll keep updated. House "Blueprint" of reauthorization bill (84 p., pdf) (see p. 32 for proposed tolling restrictions) Full text of House bill (775 p., pdf) NEW: "Funding Conundrum Persists For U.S. Transpo Overhaul," Ken Orski, Cascadia Prospectus, 8/10/09 "U.S. Senate Committee OKs $20 Billion For Highway Fund," Reuters, 7/15/09 "A Road Map, Or A Road To Ruin?" Los Angeles Times editorial board, 7/1/09 "Patching Trust Fund Gap May Trump Fast OK Of New Transpo Bill," Ken Orski, Cascadia Prospectus, 6/29/09 "White House Says Transportation System Overhaul Must Wait," Washington Post, 6/26/09 'Government Estimates $20 Billion Highway Funding Shortfall," Reuters, 6/25/09 "Oberstar's Transportation Bill Begins Legislative Journey," Minnesota Public Radio, 6/23/09 "With Road Ending For Highway Law, Congress Tackles New Blueprint," McClatchy Newspapers, 6/23/09 "House Transportation Bill: Where's The Money, & Can It Pass In '09?" Ken Orski, Cascadia Prospectus, 6/22/09 "U.S. House Wants More Transit Spending, Fewer Tolls," The Newspaper, 6/22/09 "K Street Behind Oberstar's Highway Bill," The Hill, 6/22/09 "Road Indulgence," Riverside, CA Press-Enterprise, 6/22/09 "The Oberstar Transportation Bill Is Fatally Flawed," Robert Poole, Reason Foundation, Out Of Control Policy Blog, 6/19/09 "Delays Ahead: Ambitious Plans For American Transport Run Into Reality," The Economist, 6/18/09 Read More ›

The Viaduct Decision’s Next Step: Tolling

In an interview with Ross Reynolds on KUOW-FM – MP3 audio file here – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said it was “very likely” that tolling would be applied to the new deep bored tunnel planned to replace the seismically vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct on State Route 99 in Seattle. (A state rendering of the bored tunnel’s cross-section is below, right.) Read More ›

Toll-booth-free Tolling On SR 520 And I-90

The State Route 520 Tolling Implementation Committee’s “November Scenario Evaluation” document (pdf) released last week shows that the most robust regional financing for replacing the dangerously sub-par 520 bridge comes from time-variable tolling starting in 2010 and tolling the parallel I-90 span across Lake Washington, starting in 2010 or 2016. Tolling in this key east-west corridor would be done on Read More ›

White House Looks To Private Sector To Push Road Pricing

This article, published by Greenwire/E&E News, quotes Discovery Institute Fellow Bruce Agnew: “Now the [states] can’t even keep up with operation and maintenance; they are being forced increasingly to the private market,” said Bruce Agnew, policy director at the Cascadia Project, a Seattle-based transportation think tank. The rest of the article can be found here.