Props Where Props Are Due

It’s fair to say that I don’t usually have the same policy perspective as the Cascade Policy Institute, but we do tend to converge when it comes to looking at pricing the road system.

They have a new report out supporting tolling as a way to manage congestion.

One passage particularly warmed my heart:

When viewed from the efficient pricing perspective, a
number of implications are derived for the proposed
Columbia River Crossing. Specifically, it is premature to
make a determination of the need for the CRC without
first having a system of network tolling in place. Were
network tolling in place, a clearer picture of what is needed would emerge:

  • Tolling would help relieve traffic conditions even on
    the existing bridge due to the effect of tolling on
    hypercongestion during heavy demand periods.

  • The cost-beneficial roadway capacity needs of the
    crossing would be better perceived if existing
    capacity of the road network were properly priced.
    Failure to price existing capacity tends to exaggerate
    the perceived need for new capacity. Thus, CRC
    capacity needs very likely could be smaller than
    what is currently proposed.

  • It is not clear that a dedicated transit right-of-way
    (for light rail or bus) would be necessary on the
    bridge and its approaches under an efficient pricing
    regime. Such a pricing approach naturally
    encourages use of buses, carpools and other highoccupancy
    vehicles on the roadway, and provides
    free-flow traffic conditions.

As you might imagine, I have a different view on that last bullet. As I said, we often don’t agree. But two out of three isn’t bad.

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