July 13, 2012
Does MAP-21 Undermine CRC Tolling Strategy?
There's a post up today at Transportation for America that looks at key features of the just-signed Transportation Reauthorization Sausage.
Included is this interesting item:
10. Tolling for new interstate lanes and HOV sleight-of-hand, and an emphasis on public-private partnerships
Today states are not allowed to toll Interstate highways except under very limited and rare circumstances. MAP-21 allows states to toll any new Interstate lanes - as long as the number of free (non-tolled) lanes, excluding high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, remains the same. This misses a major opportunity to allow states and regions to advance congestion pricing and other user-based charges that could both generate revenue and tackle traffic on clogged urban interstates.
If only new lanes can be tolled, does that mean that the Columbia River Crossing would be required to maintain 3 free lanes (matching the existing lanes) in each direction?
If so, that would seem to once and for all shoot the funding model in the head...
Can someone with deeper knowledge of the bill answer that?
July 13, 2012 1:13 PM
J. Cortright Says:
It looks fuzzy to me. I've reproduced what I think is the relevant language, below.
My read is that it depends entirely on whether CRC gets treated as "initial construction of a toll ... bridge" under paragraph A, in which case it can be tolled at get federal funding, or whether it is regarded as "initial construction of 1 or more lanes or other improvements that increase the capacity of a highway . . " under paragraph C, in which case, it would have to have 3 free lanes as does the current bridge.
But, hey, I'm an economist, not a lawyer.
The bill is available here:
SEC. 1512. TOLLING.
(a) AMENDMENT TO TOLLING PROVISION.—Section 129(a) of title 23, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
‘‘(a) BASIC PROGRAM.—
‘‘(1) AUTHORIZATION FOR FEDERAL PARTICIPATION.—Subject
to the provisions of this section, Federal participation shall be permitted on the same basis and in the same manner as con-
struction of toll-free highways is permitted under this chapter in the—
‘‘(A) initial construction of a toll highway, bridge, or tunnel or approach to the highway, bridge, or tunnel;
‘‘(B) initial construction of 1 or more lanes or other im- provements that increase capacity of a highway, bridge, or tunnel (other than a highway on the Interstate System) and conversion of that highway, bridge, or tunnel to a tolled fa- cility, if the number of toll-free lanes, excluding auxiliary lanes, after the construction is not less than the number of toll-free lanes, excluding auxiliary lanes, before the con- struction;
‘‘(C) initial construction of 1 or more lanes or other im- provements that increase the capacity of a highway, bridge, or tunnel on the Interstate System and conversion of that highway, bridge, or tunnel to a tolled facility, if the number of toll-free non-HOV lanes, excluding auxiliary lanes, after such construction is not less than the number of toll-free non-HOV lanes, excluding auxiliary lanes, before such con- struction;
‘‘(D) reconstruction, resurfacing, restoration, rehabilita- tion, or replacement of a toll highway, bridge, or tunnel or approach to the highway, bridge, or tunnel;
‘‘(E) reconstruction or replacement of a toll-free bridge or tunnel and conversion of the bridge or tunnel to a toll facility;
‘‘(F) reconstruction of a toll-free Federal-aid highway (other than a highway on the Interstate System) and con- version of the highway to a toll facility;
‘‘(G) reconstruction, restoration, or rehabilitation of a highway on the Interstate System if the number of toll-free non-HOV lanes, excluding auxiliary lanes, after reconstruc- tion, restoration, or rehabilitation is not less than the num- ber of toll-free non-HOV lanes, excluding auxiliary lanes, before reconstruction, restoration, or rehabilitation;
‘‘(H) conversion of a high occupancy vehicle lane on a highway, bridge, or tunnel to a toll facility; and
‘‘(I) preliminary studies to determine the feasibility of a toll facility for which Federal participation is authorized under this paragraph.
July 13, 2012 2:51 PM
Ron Swaren Says:
Line E could be a point for enterprising lawyers to argue. Line E seems to make an exemption for CRC-type projects, but I was told that was not the intent of the Bill. FHWA drafted the language, but its not supposed to include very much new tolling also qualified for federal support, unless new lane capacity is added.
July 13, 2012 3:39 PM
Looks at first read like it fits under E:
‘‘(E) reconstruction or replacement of a toll-free bridge or tunnel and conversion of the bridge or tunnel to a toll facility;"
July 13, 2012 4:51 PM
Ron Swaren Says:
Perhaps one could argue that the I-5's are not "toll-free" since they both were paid for with tolls. i.e. the purpose of E is only to find a reasonable means of paying for that section of highway, when there had been no previous tolling to pay for it. You could, broadly, say that this is not being "converted" to a "toll facility" since it did have tolls, on both sections as a matter of fact.
July 13, 2012 10:55 PM
My masochistic fellow Clark Countians do not want to pay tolls AT ALL, for anything!
So this should be very good news to them. Since there will be no new bridge of any kind, they won't have tolls "rammed down their throats".
Of course, the county business sector will continue to shrivel from the ever-increasing truck tie-ups, but that just means they can keep on complaining about the "socialists" across the river.
Better dead then red!
July 14, 2012 12:12 AM
Jason McHuff Says:
I think if they build the totally new bridges and spend all the money they want, it could qualify as a "new bridge". I know Washington is tolling the SR520 bridge, but that might not have ever been a Federal facility.
July 14, 2012 12:54 AM
Garlynn Woodsong Says:
Hmm, but I believe the proposal on the table is to toll both I-5 AND I-205 to pay for the new I-5 bridge; this bill will seem to make the tolling of I-205 difficult, even though (E) would seem to allow tolls on I-5 alone.
What if lanes are removed from a bridge?
What if I-5 were tolled and I-205 dropped to two lanes in each direction across the bridge, perhaps with a truck bypass lane in each direction that was closed to passenger vehicles?
That might allow the tolling plan to work, as I-205 would then be at capacity and unable to handle the additional traffic of toll-dodgers during rush hour...