Skip to comments.More toll lanes from Baltimore to Richmond? Business leaders push them to ease traffic jams
Posted on 06/14/2018 9:12:56 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
WASHINGTON A group of powerful business leaders is calling for more toll lanes on highways from Richmond, Virginia, to Baltimore.
The first focus of the Greater Washington Partnerships toll lane push is expected to be on Marylands plans for toll lanes around the Capital Beltway and up part of Interstate 270, with lobbying from the CEOs of some of the largest companies in Maryland, Virginia and the District to get the rules in Maryland to match those on Virginias Interstate 495 Express Lanes.
Virginias lanes are free with a minimum of three people in the car and an E-ZPass Flex, while other drivers pay a toll that rises and falls in relation to the amount of traffic in the lanes.
Having the same rules would allow for a seamless connection over the Potomac River.
A position paper to be released by the partnership Wednesday morning calls for the toll lanes to be built into a complete regional network the group believes could ease the traffic jams that waste time and money across the region every day.
Estimates of the annual cost of congestion per regional driver are as high as $1,834.
Were already paying for it. This is something that many people dont recognize, said Joe McAndrew, the Greater Washington Partnerships director of transportation policy.
He largely praised Virginias tolling system on the existing lanes of I-66 inside the Capital Beltway that launched in December as being set up to change driving behavior.
It uses the toll revenue to provide more transportation options that may be helping to move more people through the corridor.
The I-95 Express Lanes construction agreement did not include significant funding for transit options or other improvements.
As for a larger network, Virginia is already extending the I-95 Express Lanes south to near Fredericksburg, converting I-395 HOV lanes to toll lanes and adding I-66 toll lanes outside the Beltway in projects that do include money for other road or transit improvements.
Maryland in addition to plans for toll lanes on its portion of the Beltway and along I-270 has toll lanes with different rules on a short stretch of I-95 north of downtown Baltimore.
This is a once-every-20-year type opportunity for dealing with congestion issues that are only forecast to worsen, said Jason Miller, CEO for the Greater Washington Partnership.
This isnt the silver-bullet solution for our transportation system, but our highway network is a really important piece of the overall system.
The push from the business community is important, because groups like this were a key force behind this year’s approval of increased, dedicated funding for Metro for the first time in the systems more-than-40-year history.
These issues are front and center for leading employers, Miller said. It matters for their ability to attract and retain people and for them to be in a place where quality of life is consistent with what they hope all of their employees are able to experience. It doesnt just matter directly for their employees everyone wants to be in a place where economic opportunity is broadly shared.
Asked why tolling existing lanes or adding new toll lanes are the suggested solution, rather than funding from the business community, Miller said the actual tolls are just one part of a well-executed toll lane project, because it could also encourage people to shift their commuting times to hours when tolls are lower or boost carpooling and transit use.
I think this isnt the only solution to our transportation systems needs, he said. This isnt just a pay-for; this is also about managing demand on the system. Its also about providing revenues for public transportation and moving more people, not just moving more vehicles.
The report to be issued Wednesday also briefly considers the possibility of a congestion-pricing zone like the one implemented in London that charges drivers who enter the most congested areas downtown.
The Greater Washington Partnership includes leaders of companies, including Dominion, Exelon, Washington Gas, Under Armour, Capital One, The Carlyle Group, EY and Northrop Grumman, as well as legal, educational and health care groups.
It was founded by Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, Russ Ramsey of Ramsey Asset Management, and Peter Scher of JP Morgan Chase, and includes such board members as BET co-founder and Salamander Resorts CEO Sheila Johnson.
Among the group that specifically contributed to the report are a consultant who has worked with Metro, a former Virginia secretary of commerce and trade, and former U.S. Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari, who also served as Maryland transportation secretary.
Tolls are just one piece of the groups larger transportation plan that is expected to be formally released later this year.
Over the next few months, the group plans to call for more unified regional trip planning and payment systems and for more bus system overhauls, like the one recently implemented in the Baltimore region and the one in the planning stages for Metrobuses in the D.C. area.
Were going to be pushing really hard on this, Miller said.
Getting any toll lanes done in a way that maximizes benefits for the transportation network has not been easy though, McAndrew said.
If you look at tolling projects around the country, they have had mixed results.
Maryland “Freak State” PING!
How to ease traffic jams: place $100 tolls on most roads. Easy, done! (Liberals always tax their way around problems.)
I am so glad I left the area in 2004.
I would suggest this. If anyone could figure a way to run a monorail-like railway system from Richmond up to the DC area where you could park your car (for free) and ride the 109 miles in 35 minutes, then you’d see an entire massive change in traffic flow, and a lot of people finally moving out of the DC region.
It would be fun to find out just who is EXEMPT from paying tolls on these roads. I suspect that most people voting for the tolling are part of that group.
and I love how they want people to change their travel times...like when you have a job you can just come and go as you please...maybe in govt work..
Having driven that route more times than I care to count, on company expense, I can tell you:
1)Just to get from 495 to Stafford at peak times already can cost $20. Imagine the cost of a ‘full ride’ from Balt. to Rich. Yeah.
2)All that valuable real estate currently taken by the two HOV lanes in the center could be devoted to adding 3 lanes in each direction.
3)HOV lanes only relieve congestion for those in the lanes; it doesn’t seem to affect the other shlumpfs much. So how is this anything other than a way to raise more money?
Face it, rich people want a way to pay their way into faster ‘service’, whether it is their road system or checkin line at the airport. At least call it what it is.
Make all roads, in the area, toll roads. The problem will solve itself. I love problem solving. I feel great and havent done anything
I live near the I-95 Express Toll Lanes. It’s amazing how few vehicles use it. The other day, I saw a State Trooper with his Boffo Laser Gun standing on the shoulder and pulled someone over by walking onto the road in front of the driver.
It was easy cause there weren’t any other cars on the express lanes.
I see lots of police and state vehicles use it cause they are exempt from tolls. Very few others really use it.
More often than not, I’ll eyeball a car as it gets on the express lane and still be next to it, sometimes in front but almost always in view when he gets off and back onto normal lanes.
So of course, they are extending it by eight miles.
Yep...and it would be fun to see some ‘investigative reporter’ file a Freedom of Information Act request to find out just who is exempt, and why.
If that’s done, then the requirements may tighten up on those lanes, and then the support they have by politicians might drop significantly.
Create a greater number of traffic jams spread out over wider geography to weaken the volume of traffic jams at historically recorded traffic jam geographies. Spread out the pain and make the citizenry and environment (in extra fuel consumption) pay for it.
The states can continuously pick your pocket and track your every movement.
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