Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Short items on the Philippines, El Paso and York

Philippines to build more toll roads

Agence-France Presse reports that Filipino President, Benigno Aquino wants the private sector to build three new major toll highways in the country. He listed them as:

- A link between North Luzon and South Luzon highways in Manila;
- Manila airport highway; and
- New access route to South Luzon tollway.

Of course the key problem faced by the Philippines is with congestion at toll booths near Manila.  Longer term it may want to relieve the congestion on parallel routes, but for now tolls are an effective way to help fund a major expansion of infrastructure.

El Paso to build new lanes as HOT lanes

The El Paso Times reports that El Paso County, Texas is intending to build HOT lanes parallel to the Border Highway.  It involves the construction of two new toll lanes, one in each direction, and an upgrade of the highway's four existing lanes, about 8.7 miles from U.S. 54 to Zaragoza Road.  The cost is estimated at US$80.2 million, with state bonds paying US$74 million and federal funds another US$6.2 million with the project expected to be completed in 2013.  No new land will be needed to build the extra lanes. What isn't clear is whether the revenue will be used to pay back the bonds, or be "free revenue" for the County, as it is claimed the "revenues raised here will stay in the region".   Nice deal for the County it would appear. The intention is that the lanes be fully electronic free flow and have peak and off peak charges.
A previous El Paso Times poll showed that most people did not plan to use the toll lanes, but motorists will have the option of using the express toll road or the non-toll part of the road.

It was also recommended that the toll lanes revert to non-toll lanes if the project does not pay for itself by 2028.  The proposed toll would be a base of US$0.10 per miles off peak US$0.13 per mile peak.

York rejects congestion charge

The Yorkshire Post reports that York Council has expressly rejected congestion charging for its Local Transport Plan. Executive Member for City Strategy, Steve Galloway said:

“The present council is very much opposed to congestion charging. It would impact on the city’s key economic drivers in the tourism and retail sectors. “If the Government does introduce a road pricing system across the country, then things could change. But as things stand, we do not want to be in competition with other cities with people perceiving York as somewhere that is more expensive to visit".

However, I don't think that the small congestion charge in Durham has had a negative effect. After all, York could well have a system that is targeted for its needs on a scale not much different from Durham. However, given the debacle of the last government’s mishandling of the issue of road pricing, it is hardly surprising it is seen as a poison pill by British councils outside London.

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