Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Win For Transportation Team

The State's transportation team has been notably unsuccessful in tapping into federal dollars for innovative transportation programs. (Survey here.) That sorry record makes a recent win all the sweeter.

The FHWA recently announced that the proposal by a group consisting of Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri was one of six winning proposals in the FHWA interstate highway "Corridors of the Future" program. According to the FHWA:

The proposals were selected for their potential to use public and private resources to reduce traffic congestion within the corridors and across the country. The concepts include building new roads and adding lanes to existing roads, building truck-only lanes and bypasses, and integrating real-time traffic technology like lane management that can match available capacity on roads to changing traffic demands.

Illinois et al. will get $5 million to develop a plan for the I-70 corridor. The FHWA describes the plan as follows:

This project proposes dedicated and segregated truck lanes along I-70 from the Interstate 435 beltway on the eastern part of Kansas City, Missouri to the Ohio/West Virginia border near Bridgeport, Ohio/Wheeling, West Virginia.

The concept proposes adding four dedicated truck lanes to the existing infrastructure, two in each direction, with at least one interchange per county providing access to the truck lanes and includes, conceptually, truck staging areas. These lanes present the opportunity to pilot size and weight increases on a facility dedicated to trucks. The dedicated truck lanes are seen as a way to reduce congestion, improve safety, and offset the maintenance costs of general purpose lanes.

One can only hope that the I-70 team consider some innovative approaches, including leveraging the Illinois I-PASS platform to use tolling to raise money to build and maintain the truck-only lanes and, perhaps, even the entire I-70 corridor. One can envision the truck-only lanes being available only to trucks that have advanced safety equipment, such as adaptive cruise control and out-of-lane warning signals. This safety equipment plus dedicated truck lanes might allow higher truck speeds, a money-saving approach for which the trucking industry would be willing to pay a fair price in tolls.

To be fair, it appears from the FHWA's description of the project that Indiana is the lead partner in the I-70 group. It is a sad reflection on this State's transportation team that Illinois has become the "tag-along" state to Indiana of all places when it comes to innovative transportation projects. Nevertheless, a win is a win.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think Dennis Byrne called it the "Chicago Way".

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic. State and federal highway funds are in shambles because our electeds won't raise the gas tax to even meet inflation. The answer: double the size of the highway and pretend that the truckers will pay high tolls to fund it.

Anonymous said...

Indiana has lately been the lead partner on several projects like this. Indiana was the lead state on Interstate High Priority Corridor 18, which not only included the proposed I-69 (although the state later determined that the Indianapolis to Evansville portion would not be self-sustaining as a toll road), but also I-94 from Port Huron to Chicago. Is all the work on the Dan Ryan and 80/94 part of that initiative?

Since the "success" is on I-70, which goes through such metropolises as Vandalia and Effingham, I doubt that Illinois had much to do with it. Maybe a real success would be if they accomplished something in this area, on Illinois's initiative.

Rick Powell said...

This sounds a lot like the Reason Foundation report that identified I-80 across IA and IL as a route where a tolled truck lane would make economic sense. That report had a single truck lane in each direction with adequate shoulders to pass broken down trucks, separated by a barrier from the "normal" 2 lanes in each direction for all other traffic.

Seeing as how we are designing for 3-lanes already on I-80 in a relatively confined space, adding an additional toll lane with wider shoulders and additional barriers would require a re-do of all the overhead bridges and interchanges (some of which are already under construction or recently re-constructed), as well as additional environmental impacts. This retro-fit would literally cost billions, and I'm sure the truck industry would want triple trailers and 120,000 lb weight limits as well as 75 mph speed limits in order to justify paying a toll.

If the idea is to take freight off the highways and put it on the rails, this idea (assuming it makes economic sense) does just the opposite. MO is looking at the I-70 corridor now for tolled truck lanes...don't know if anything will become of it.

BTW, I-70 through eastern IL was just reconstructed a few years ago. A lot of that new stuff would need to be torn out to make an 8-lane highway.

Just a few thoughts here.

Davey said...

Oh, good. We're in a global warming/pollution crisis, so let's kill off public transportation and accomodate more cars and trucks on the highways. Just brilliant. With leadership like this we might as well just shoot ourselves in the head and get it over with. We are betrayed at every level of government.

Roads, even toll roads, never begin to pay for themselves. And yet I don't think the folks whose property values rise because of the tax-funded "improvements" will be expected to raise local sales or property taxes to pay for them. That's only required of public transportation.

Anonymous said...

Again, Davey, wrong. The communities near the I-355 extension were required to contribute to the cost of the interchanges. And if you are proposing such a tax, propose it, instead of using it as an excuse for not taxing those who benefit from transit and can afford to pay for it (not to be a broken record).

Davey said...

I've tried to find evidence of any tax hikes imposed to pay for highway work. Please let us know where you found this.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say tax hike, I said contributions by the communities if they wanted an interchange.

Anonymous said...

If you want a link to the official minutes of the Tollway Authority entering into the contribution agreements, it is here (see page 13).

Taxes may not have been immediately hiked, but since the five municipalities do not sell goods or services at the market, they would not have had the interchanges built if they did not contribute some tax money.

Anonymous said...

"Roads, even toll roads, never begin to pay for themselves." -- Davey

Wrong. Toll roads do pay for themselves, even though they typically charge tolls much less than what the market would bear from a revenue maximization perspective.

See, for example, the financial statement of the Illinois State Toll Authority:

http://www.auditor.illinois.gov/Audit-Reports/Compliance-Agency-List/Toll-Hwy-Auth/FY07-Toll-Hwy-Auth-Fin-Full.pdf

Anonymous said...

Cite in previous comment is:
http://www.auditor.illinois.gov/
Audit-Reports/Compliance-Agency-List
/Toll-Hwy-Auth/FY07-Toll-Hwy-Auth
-Fin-Full.pdf

You will have to put the pieces back together into a functional URL.

Anonymous said...

No, I'll do the service for the other anonymous:
Link

It would be nice if Blogger had a pop up to formulate the links, but in the absence of that, it is necessary to tag them in the following format:

<a href="[insert url here]">description of link</a>

Use the Preview button to see if your coding works.

Back to the subject, I wonder if Davey will return to acknowledge his two errors.

Davey said...

anony, I'm aware that the tollways take in money. Nothing you've referred to shows that places like Old Orchard paid for that exit from a local tax without any input from the state, for example. Same for Schaumburg or Oakbrook. You say the "communities" were required to contribute. How much? 55 percent? How much did they raise their local taxes to so?

The point is that we get all this moralistic finger-pointing from people like you about how mass transit should pay its own way, unlike every other form of transportation infrastructure with the possible exception of some tollways, the original construction of which was not paid for out of non-tax income.