“Congestion relief” (tolls) from around the country

The toll on I-66 inside the Beltway hit $46.50 on Tuesday

That’s the headline in the Washington Post, regarding a relatively new “congestion pricing” program in northern Virginia.  “The toll on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway reached $46.50 for a solo driver during the Tuesday morning rush, just below a record of $47.25 set last month.”

This is how government explains the tolls.

“Tolls are based on congestion,” she said. “The more congested it is, the higher the toll, and that’s how we manage demand for the lanes so people who are on the lanes have free-flowing traffic.”

Clearly, only the wealthy or those on expense accounts, can afford to have “free-flowing traffic” under this program.

But IF the TOLLS were truly about reducing congestion, then they would charge ZERO when there was no congestion. That’s not the case. At 5:30 a.m., the same government agency was charging $8.50 to drive on an uncongested road.

No traffic on the road at 5:31 a.m. and yet Virginia is charging people $8.50. Do you see how this game works?

It sure looks like a money grab to me.

As if to prove my point, a member of the Virginia legislature introduced a bill to toll opposite direction traffic. They paint it as an issue of “fairness”; but it’s truly a money grab. It’s not about congestion relief.

“The cost for single drivers averages $10.70 a day, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. But to keep traffic flowing, those tolls spike to deter more people from getting on the road.

One of the many so-called toll relief bills going through the Virginia legislature would activate reverse tolls. That means people who live in D.C. and work out in Virginia would be charged also.”

Then there’s the “benefit” for those paying. From a news report:

“The average speed on Interstate 66 over the entire four-hour period each way now covered by HOV or toll rules is now about 10 miles an hour faster than it was in January of last year.”

Just 10 mph faster? Not much of a “benefit” for $40, is it?

Here’s a Washington Post video explaining it, but not covering the negative impacts on those unable to afford the tolls.

A different news report shows how hard it is to stop or change the TOLLING program, once it’s put in place.

“The Northam administration warns that any changes to the tolling rules inside the Beltway now could require Virginia to pay a penalty to the private companies building the separate toll lanes outside the Beltway, since the contract for those lanes was based on Virginia’s existing plans.”

In Seattle.

Citizens voted to increase taxes for a new “general purpose lane” on I-405 in Seattle. But shortly before it opened, they were informed by WSDOT that the new lane would become a 2nd HOV lane. However single occupancy vehicles could drive in the HOV lane if they PAID AGAIN, via TOLLS.

Now that the program has been in effect for a few months, government is pushing for even higher tolls!

The study found that I-405 FAILS federal standards.

The study found that the express toll lanes do not maintain speeds of 45 miles per hour at least 90 percent of the time during peak periods, as mandated by state legislation.”

But government officials say they need to RAISE the price of the TOLLS in order to force more cars off the road, or into the over-congested “free” lanes.

“Right now we’re not in compliance with state law, and DOT is clearly flaunting what the intent of the legislation was,” Rep. Harmsworth said.

Harmsworth added that drivers are being priced off of the interstate and he wants I-405 to return to four general lanes and two HOV lanes.”