Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Utah's private toll road

The Standard-Examiner (Utah) reports on a relatively small fully private toll road in the state called the Adams Avenue Parkway in South Ogden. It is a mile long, costs US$1 for a car, US$2 for a truck and was built following the State’s decision that the only way the project would proceed would be for the private sector to build and toll it.

Its own website indicates it is a small business operation, that is quite entrepreneurial and community oriented. It was financed by a state loan, but the private owners are earning just enough money to pay for the debt and operate the road, after which it will remain their road to own and operate. Tolls are mostly manually collected, although there is an “express card” which isn’t fully explained, along with stickers (which may be bar code read).

The article indicates it has only 1,800 vehicles a day, and notes a few unique features of the road:

1. “Pay it forward”. A trend, most frequently at Christmas, for people to gift toll passage to people behind them. So many do this, that it can mean many cars pass without having to pay, as some people insist on paying. Charity at a toll road.

2. All vehicles pay, as it is a truly private road. The Police pay, as do ambulances.

In a world where tolling is controversial in many countries, and privately owned roads also raise spectres of owners seeking to extract rents from users, this small private toll road is happily carrying low volumes of traffic providing motorists with a choice.

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