OLYMPIA – Tolling topics will be a focus of the State Transportation Commission’s meeting next week in Olympia. In addition, the commission will review an implementation plan for a road usage charge pilot project.
The meeting starts 9 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 13, and 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the Transportation Building, 310 Maple Park Ave. SE, on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. This meeting is open to the public and persons wishing to speak to the commission may do so during public comment periods at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday and 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Tuesday’s meeting starts with a presentation from Chris Tomlinson, the executive director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, on several incentive programs his agency has tested to encourage transit use on crowded tolled highways. He will share with commissioners the successes, lessons learned and next steps his agency is taking.
During the afternoon, the commission will consider a pilot project implementation plan developed by its 25-member Road Usage Charge Steering Committee. A road usage charge is a per-mile charge drivers would pay for the use of the roads. It would replace the gas tax drivers now pay on a gallon of gasoline and provide a long-term, sustainable funding source for transportation infrastructure in light of growing fuel efficiency of new vehicles, which consume less gas. With its steering committee, the commission has spent nearly five years evaluating the viability and operational dynamics of road usage charging. The commission is preparing to launch a pilot project in fall 2017 to test the concept and let Washington drivers experience and shape how it might work.
Tolling discussions resume on Wednesday morning with a briefing about the role and purpose of the “sufficient minimum balance” policy for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Since 2010, the commission has ensured a sufficient minimum balance in the Tacoma Narrows Bridge account to provide rate stability for bridge users and fiscal assurance for taxpayers and bondholders. Following this discussion, the Washington State Department of Transportation will provide a financial update on Tacoma Narrows Bridge and State Route 520 Bridge tolling, as well as a briefing on Interstate 405 and State Route 167 tolling operations.
For more information about the commission and a complete meeting agenda, visit: www.wstc.wa.gov/
It is FAR less expensive and FAR less intrusive to simply adjust the gas tax for inflation and for the average fleet fuel economy. Gas taxes are cheap to collect (costs about 1% of the revenue), they are proportional to use, they reward fuel economy to lessen demand for foreign oil, and have no risks of a hackable database for your travels.Report
James C. Walker, National Motorists Association