Bush energy plan adds muscle to anti-congestion effort
President Bush's plan to improve the nation's energy security through a 20 percent reduction in gasoline consumption also includes $175 million to combat congestion.
The money will supplement the U.S. Department of Transportation's efforts to provide grants to states and localities for congestion mitigation strategies using technology and targeted highway construction.
Among the techniques the department is aggressively pushing is congestion pricing, which is an economic method of dampening demand during peak periods. The most common form of this technique in the United States is variable toll lanes adjacent to free lanes in which the price changes based on traffic volume in the lane and which would allow drivers a faster option if they are willing to pay the price of access. Another method is to vary tolls based on the time of day for an entire roadway.
The tactic has been tried on a limited basis in the United States, but the DOT is pushing for a broader demonstration of the traffic management approach.
'We believe that when you combine such new approaches to pricing highway systems with expanded commuter transit services, commitments from employers to expand work schedule flexibility, an expansion of real-time traffic information, and other successful operational strategies, we can demonstrate that a sustainable approach to congestion relief is no longer theory,' said DOT Secretary Mary Peters in a speech to the Transportation Research Board in Washington on Wednesday.
Peters said that the department will announce today and Friday the eight finalists for its Corridors of the Future program. Unveiled last May, the program aims to designate three to five high-growth, interstate trade and travel corridors, including rail, where targeted expansion projects that have the greatest potential to reduce traffic congestion.
The DOT received 40 applications from states and metropolitan planning organizations.