Quicker commutes will take their toll, literally

A new poll finds more drivers would rather pay tolls than pay higher taxes when it comes to transporation funding. (AP)

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Want a faster commute? It’s going to cost.

More transportation leaders are putting stock in tolls as the way to keep traffic-choked areas like the Capital region moving.

“Basically, tolls are the future,” Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton said during a recent press event.

“We’ve got to figure out ways to manage the capacity we have better. Using dynamic tolling is a mechanism that we can do that.”

The InterCounty Connector in Maryland operates under this principle — drivers can pay a toll and get a speedy trip. The same general idea applies to the upcoming Beltway Express Lanes project between Springfield and the Dulles Toll Road — drivers who want a speedy commute can pay a toll to use free flowing lanes.

Tolling gives transportation leaders perhaps the fastest way to impact change on a roadway, especially since in many cases, there just isn’t room to build more roads, says Connaughton.

“When you look at the Beltway project — if you look physically, we are not going to be able to go out any farther. There are going to be no further improvements on that road essentially.”

And if drivers want more large-scale transportation improvements, they’ll have to get used to the idea of paying for them.

“I think people have to come to understand that user fees are going to be the primary source to get any major (transportation) projects done,” says Connaughton.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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