New Capitol Research Brief, Other Recent Reports Examine the Future of Tolling and Congestion Reduction

While tolling has long been a fact of life for folks in the Northeastern United States, other parts of the country have also been getting into the act in recent years. Our latest CSG Capitol Research brief entitled “Tolling and Congestion Pricing” examines toll projects underway across the country, the use of tolling as both revenue generating mechanism and part of a congestion reduction strategy, the modernization of toll payment systems and the chances for future proliferation of toll facilities. The brief includes a 50-state chart breaking down the number of each type of toll facility in each state. With a complete list of references, it’s also a good source for further reading on tolling and congestion issues. But there are a number of other recently released reports that may be of interest to you as well.

Among them:

  • The Transportation Research Board issued a report in July looking at the role of state departments of transportation in the implementation of transportation demand management programs. These programs seek to reduce congestion by shifting transportation demand to alternatives to single occupancy vehicle use, shifting travel away from peak periods, or shifting it to less crowded facilities. The report includes case studies for California, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Utah as well as miniature profiles for eight other states. Common transportation demand management services include those in support of bicycling, carpooling, transit use, vanpooling, walking and ride matching. The report provides a primer for states seeking to implement or improve transportation demand management programs to reduce congestion.
  • You may not believe it as you’re sitting in traffic but congestion in U.S. cities has actually declined over the past two years. That’s according to a report from the Federal Highway Administration entitled “2009 Urban Congestion Trends: How Operations Is Solving Congestion Problems.” It’s not just because of less traffic on the road due to the recession either, FHWA said. Innovative strategies in traffic operations have played a key role as well with cities managing traffic smarter and more efficiently. The report includes a number of case studies examining how state and local agencies worked together to reduce the effects of congestion. Among the strategies that have worked: ramp metering on I-285 in Atlanta, High-Occupancy/Toll (HOT) Lanes on I-95 in Miami, improved information coordination in Kansas City, MO, work zone management on the I-5 bridge in Seattle and a traffic signal system improvement program in Denver.
  • Last month, FHWA also awarded $10 million in grants to seven states as part of a national program to encourage congestion relief strategies. The grants will allow Texas to test a pay-as-you-drive insurance plan, help advance a regional network of priced lanes in the Charlotte area, and implement a parking pricing plan in California. Florida, Minnesota, Virginia and Washington also received grant funds. The grants ranged from $25,000 up to $4 million. There is more about the program on the FHWA website here.
  • Finally, those who are in states where private companies are playing a significant role in toll projects may want to read a lengthy recent report from the Mineta Transportation Institute entitled “Policy Issues in U.S. Transportation Public-Private Partnerships: Lessons from Australia.” The report examines Australia’s experience with P3s and lessons that may be applicable for the use of P3s in this country. Among the key P3 policy issues examined: how to distribute the risks inherent in P3 contracts across public and private sector partners; when and how to use non-compete (or compensation) clauses in P3 contracts; how to address concerns about monopoly power; and the role and importance of concession length. Australian P3 experts stress the importance of planning for a long-term partnership with private partners, focusing on performance-based contracts and conducting effective public relations efforts to explain P3 contracts.

In addition to our Capitol Research brief on Tolling and Congestion Pricing, don’t forget about our other recent briefs on Public-Private Partnerships, Intelligent Transportation Systems and Climate Change & Transportation. Together, we hope they’ll provide you with plenty of policy options and a clearer understanding of tolling and congestion reduction efforts around the country.