3/1/2006California: Higher Tolls Fail to Reduce Congestion
Toll increases designed to reduce congestion on Orange County, California's 91 Express Lanes have only increased revenue.
Higher tolls on Orange County, California's 91 Express Lanes have increased revenue without decreasing congestion. The toll yesterday increased to a peak rate of $8.50, making it the most expensive 10-mile drive in the country. Despite prior rate hikes, use of the lanes has increased every year since 1999.
"The revenues are off the charts, a lot higher than what they anticipated," Corona City Councilman Jeff Miller told the Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper.
Between 2004 and 2006, weekly traffic levels increased by more than a third. In 2002, the road generated $23.3 million annually. Toll and volume increases helped grow that figure to $29.1 million in 2005.
Toll revenue must be used only on projects that benefit the 91 freeway. The Orange County Transportation Authority is currently considering options including retiring debt early and adding an eastbound lane.