Congestion

Toll Roads and Border Politics

I-15 between Nevada and Utah

Last week the Arizona DOT filed an application with FHWA to impose a toll on the 29.4 mile stretch of Interstate 15 within Arizona's border, which links Nevada and Utah. Utah Governor Herbert strongly opposes such a move.

"I strongly oppose any plans to levy tolls on Arizona's portion of I-15, or on any portion of I-15," said Governor Herbert.  "Every state pays into the Highway Trust Fund, and every state receives money from the Highway Trust Fund to maintain the segments of the Interstate Highway System inside their respective borders.  Arizona cannot pick and choose which parts of our national interstate network it wants to maintain.  If Arizona has been negligent in its maintenance of I-15, it should not try and foist its responsibility onto highway users or neighboring states who already pay into the system with their own tax dollars."

Jarrett Walker of Human Transit compares this plan to Virginia's plan put a toll on I-95, one of the state's main corridors, and Arizona's proposal to tax a highway on a remote corner of the state. David King discusses the politics involved of tolling roads at borders, linking to David Levinson, director of the NEXUS research group and Transportationist, and his paper "Taxing Foreigners Living Abroad". (The title is inspired by this Monty Python sketch.)

Any sort of tolling or congestion pricing is inherently fraught with politics. A recent volume of the Transportation Research Record focuses on these issues -  v.2221 Revenue, Finance, and Economics. Equity is also an important factor, and TRB recently published the report Equity of Evolving Transportation Finance Mechanisms, which looks at the equity of evolving transportation finance mechanisms, such as tolling. 

Unintended Consequences: Booting Hybrids from HOV Lanes Slows Traffic

 Hybrid car in the carpool lane, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Berkeley

This past July, the California Clean Air Stickers for HOV Lanes program ended for hybrids. What was the effect of this change? How did it affect traffic flow and congestion? That question was investigated by ITS researchers Prof. Michael Cassidy and Kitae Jang, of the Volvo Center.  Their new ITS report, Dual Influences on Vehicle Speeds in Special-Use Lanes and Policy Implications, analysed traffic data and used models to calculate the impact of the added low-emissions vehicles on the other lanes. Cassidy told the Berkeley Newscenter:

“Our results show that everybody is worse off with the program’s ending,” said Cassidy. “Drivers of low-emission vehicles are worse off, drivers in the regular lanes are worse off, and drivers in the carpool lanes are worse off. Nobody wins.”

...

“As vehicles move out of the carpool lane and into a regular lane, they have to slow down to match the speed of the congested lane,” explained Jang. “Likewise, as cars from a slow-moving regular lane try to slip into a carpool lane, they can take time to pick up speed, which also slows down the carpool lane vehicles.”

The paper was also discussed by the New York Times, USA Today, and the LA Times

Derailment Raises Issue of Second NY/NJ Transit Tunnel

A Northeast Corridor train derailment disrupted New Jersey Transit service to and from New York earlier this week. The derailment and resulting commuter nightmare has some transit riders calling for officials to reconsider the decision to kill the Mass Transit Tunnel. Groundbreaking for that project, which would have resulted in a second transit tunnel under the Hudson River, was held in 2009, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie killed the over-budget project in October of last year. The governor has indicated a willingness to consider other projects to increase transit capacity between New Jersey and New York. An Amtrak derailment earlier today is causing further headaches for NJ Transit.

Screen out rubbernecking?

 Turning it back on its tires by tedkerwin

Today on the Freakonomics Blog, Eric Morris revists the issue of rubbernecking and traffc congestion:

The pinnacle of transportation-related annoyance may be that not only does rubbernecking take place along the route where the accident happens, but it can even cause severe jams in the lanes going the opposite direction. So a few years ago I had what I thought was a bright idea: how about setting up screens at accident sites to hide the scene and prevent gaping?

Finally, somebody is trying out this idea in practice. The Highways Agency in the U.K. has tested such screens. (For more see thisthisthis, and this, which leads you to several other links.) The bottom line is that the screens are not perfect; for example, the barriers to which the screens have to be attached vary in size, which creates problems; the screens are vulnerable to wind; the decision about whether to deploy them must be made very rapidly; they have to be able to be set up quickly and safely, etc. Thus they are not suitable for all accident sites. However, as the links above indicate, test results have shown they are effective.

Hopefully there will be more follow up studies on the issue. Will screens be coming stateside soon?

Syndicate content