Search This Blog

Monday, July 14, 2008

Is variable pricing knocking at our door?

As the federal highway trust fund fizzles out at the national level, and the state coffers for transportation are tapped out, various new revenue sources to fund transportation infrastructure are being considered and tested out.

It appears that one of the most viable sources for transportation is going to be some form tolling the users of the system. Of course, traditional tolling is always going to work due to economies of scale and for other geographic reasons. But it does look like we are headed for some form of a pay-as-you-go type of revenue stream.

Take Seattle for instance, the city is pilot testing a new concept called congestion pricing on the 520 bridge project. Seattle is one of five major metropolitan areas in the country to test the concept. In essence, congestion pricing is way to manage demand on the transportation network by charging higher tolls during the peak driving times and reduced tolls during the non-peak hours. The goal is to incentivize commuters to use public transportation, ride a bike, or adjust their driving times (if possible) to reduce congestion during the traditional "rush hours."

The concept is really gaining traction in the major metropolitan areas. Just last week, the city of Portland conditionally approved a $4.2 billion bridge expansion over the Columbia River on U.S. I-5, and they plan to use variable tolls, or congestion pricing, to pay for the project. Read the whole story here.

Governor Otter and his staff will be in Coeur d'Alene this week to discuss with the public how they would prefer to pay for transportation infrastructure into the future. The meeting will be from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday at the Best Western Coeur d'Alene Inn. A brief introduction to the funding challenges will be presented at 4:15 p.m., 5:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. Otter will lead the presentation at 4:15 p.m. For more details on this meeting click here.

Question: Do you think some form of congestion pricing would work in our region? If so, how would it work?

No comments:

Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization (KMPO) is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for Kootenai County, Idaho. Federal law requires urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people to have an MPO. KMPO was formed in 2003, to provide coordinated transportation planning within Kootenai county for the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and the Coeur d'Alene tribe.

KMPO's Board of Directors oversees KMPO for Kootenai County, ID. KMPO's Executive Director and Staff are responsible for day-to-day operational and administrative needs.