Tolls on exsiting bridges?
Questions come up regarding whether it is possible to impose tolls on Interstate highway segments. Aren't they "freeways" after all?
Federal policy has changed over time, so even though the vast majority of Interstate highway segments are free of tolls, there are several exceptions, and Congress has even provided incentives for innovative application of tolls. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) web site has a wealth of information.
The following information is still being organized, so bear with us. We hope that it can provide useful information.
For basics on tolling interstates, see FHWA Tolling Facts
What are the regulations that apply to the Columbia River Crossing?
There several options, depending on how Oregon and Washington choose to proceed.
23 U.S.C. 129(a)(1)(C) -- Converting free bridge to toll. Applicable to seismic retrofits. Could potentially apply to I-205. See
FHWA Innovative Finance
CRITICAL QUESTION: Can we impose tolls as a first step, to manage traffic demand? The Columbia River Crossing project examines this question in this
3/26/2007 Subcommittee Packet
(large file) contains material that describes TDM/TSM. Here is a brief quote:
• Pricing is included for both the new I-5 bridge and existing bridges with variable pricing to reflect peak
hour demand. Pricing is focused on reducing vehicle trips by 10%.
• Transit operating subsidies are provided to encourage increased transit service and use."
What is the official CRC position on tolling:
CRC Tolling Fact Sheet dated Jan. 14, 2008, says: "Will charging tolls cause drivers to divert to other roads such as I-205?
It is possible, though with congestion on I-205, transportation planners don’t anticipate much diversion. When construction is completed, the I-5 corridor will be less congested than today. A toll will likely encourage the use of carpooling, transit, biking or traveling at a different time of day."
Here is information about FHWA demonstration programs, for which Oregon and Washington could potentially apply:
This is from the FHWA's website describing SAFETY-LU:
SAFETEA-LU provides States with increased flexibility to use tolling, not
only to manage congestion, but to finance infrastructure improvements as
well. Following are programs available to States to toll on a pilot or
demonstration basis --
Under the new Interstate System Construction Toll Pilot Program, the
Secretary may permit a State or compact of States to collect tolls on an
Interstate highway, bridge, or tunnel for the purpose of constructing
Interstate highways. This program is limited to 3 projects in total
(nationwide), and prohibits a participating State from entering into an
agreement with a private person which would prevent the State from improving
adjacent public roads to accommodate diverted traffic.
The Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Toll Pilot Program
was established in TEA-21 to allow up to 3 Interstate tolling projects for
the purpose of reconstructing or rehabilitating Interstate highway corridors
that could not be adequately maintained or improved without the collection
of tolls. SAFETEA-LU makes no revisions to the program, therefore it
continues without change, as it was authorized for "a term to be determined
by the Secretary, but not less than 10 years." [PL 105-178, 1216(b)]
The Value Pricing Pilot Program is continued, funded at $59 million through
2009, to support the costs of implementing up to 15 variable pricing pilot
programs nationwide to manage congestion and benefit air quality, energy
use, and efficiency. A new set-aside totaling $12 million through 2009 must
be used for projects not involving highway tolls.
The new Express Lanes Demonstration Programwill allow a total of 15
demonstration projects through 2009 to permit tolling to manage high levels
of congestion, reduce emissions in a nonattainment or maintenance area, or
finance added Interstate lanes for the purpose of reducing congestion. A
State, public authority, or public or private entity designated by a State
may apply. Eligible toll facilities include existing toll facilities,
existing HOV facilities, and a newly created toll lane. Tolls charged on HOV
facilities under this program must use pricing that varies according to time
of day or level of traffic; for non-HOV, variable pricing is optional.
Automatic toll collection is required, and the Secretary must promulgate a
final rule specifying requirements, standards, or performance specifications
to ensure interoperability within 180 days.
Here is the link to the tolling and pricing opening page on the FHWA website: