Wednesday 9 November 2011

News shorts: Norway, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania


Norway is to change laws to allow local authorities to introduce congestion charging, primarily to help contribute towards reducing emissions.  Given Norway's recent history with tolling, with urban toll rings in Trondheim, Bergen and Oslo (and the latter is now effectively a congestion charge), this is unsurprising.  

North Carolina toll road to be “expensive”

The Triangle Business Journal reports that the Triangle Expressway, due to open in December, will be one of the more expensive toll roads in the US. It will be North Carolina’s first toll road and will be fully electronic free flow using DSRC and ANPR technologies. It will be 18.8 miles long between I-40 at Durham to NC55 Morrinsville. The cost is estimated at US$1 billion to be recovered over 50 years.

Those who drive it from NC 147 to Holly Springs will be charged as much as $4.15 when the 19-mile section is completed next year. For drivers who don’t buy remote payment devices called transponders, the rate of 22.2 cents a mile compares to 16 cents a mile on a toll road in Greenville, S.C., 13 cents a mile on a route in Austin, Texas, and 8 cents a mile on both the New Jersey Turnpike and a short toll highway in Atlanta. The local tollway also is relatively expensive for transponder-outfitted cars, but the 14.5 cents a mile they will pay represents a relatively generous 35 percent discount. The 14.5-cent rate is just above average compared to a selection of U.S. toll systems that use transponders, according to an economic analysis used to set rates here.

The key for me is whether the tolls match the infrastructure costs, if they aligned then it is difficult to argue that they are excessive.

New Jersey and Pennsylvania states pulling money from toll roads

The Inquirer reports how turnpike authorities in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania are being told to hike up tolls to help states meet general expenditure.

New Jersey Turnpike Authority last week agreed to contribute an additional $324 million a year to the state. Since 2007, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has sent $3.1 billion - more than it collected in tolls - to Harrisburg for statewide use.

Tolls will go up again Jan. 1 on the New Jersey Turnpike (53 percent), Garden State Parkway (50 percent), and Pennsylvania Turnpike (10 percent for cash customers; none for E-ZPass users).

Given some of the debates about privately owned toll roads taking money from motorists, I wonder if it is practices like this that provoke the likes of Initiative 1125 in Washington!

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