3/20/2008Report Urges Tolling Every Road Leading to Washington
New plan suggests every road leading to Washington, DC should have a toll booth.
Local government officials in the Washington, DC area released a plan yesterday calling for the addition of toll booths to every road leading to the nation's capital. Federal gas tax funding worth $300,000 was used to pay for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments study which took eighteen months to complete.
The first element of the plan has entered the construction phase. High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes are being added to the Beltway and to Interstates 95 and 395, providing an extra lane of desperately needed highway capacity. Under the favorite scenario of the transportation planners, however, toll booths will be added to roads that have already been built and thus the tolling plan will only add new fees for usage of lanes that are currently free. The study explained that the building of new lanes with "value pricing" was only financially feasible in certain high-traffic areas.
The list of targets for toll booth additions includes the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, the Clara Barton Parkway, the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Suitland Parkway, Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, Arlington Memorial Bridge and part of Independence Avenue -- all of which are currently free to use for all motorists. The National Park Service, which is in charge of these roads, expressed outrage at the proposal.
"With the high volumes of commuter traffic using these routes daily, it is easy to forget that the primary purpose of these parkways is to provide a natural, scenic travel route into the nation's capital," wrote Park Service National Capital Region Director Joseph M. Lawler.
Lawler condemned the thought of adding unsightly toll booths to the park roads and suggested the collection of a toll would violate a law that prohibits the charging of any fees to visit a national park within the District of Columbia.
Although the plan is designed to tax motorists for the purpose of further subsidizing bus and rail service, the report suggested adding extra bus capacity would offer limited value.
"The addition of extensive transit service to the Variably Priced Lane networks resulted in system-wide increases in transit use of around 4 percent," the report stated.
A summary copy of the study is available in a 1mb PDF file at the source link below.