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D.C. Region Transportation Planning Board Considers Road Pricing System

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The Region's Transportation Planning board is considering a proposal which could cost commuters approximately 8 to 10 cents per mile to drive on area roadways.
Elliot Francis
The Region's Transportation Planning board is considering a proposal which could cost commuters approximately 8 to 10 cents per mile to drive on area roadways.

The Region's Transportation Planning board is considering a proposal which could cost commuters approximately 8 to 10 cents per mile to drive on area roadways.

Members of the Council of Government's Transportation board voted to accept the proposal, which will attempt to gauge the commuting public's interest in the plan. At stake is an idea conceived by the Brookings Institution for a GPS based roadway pricing system. The model would charge motorists based on the distance they drive, the type of vehicle they drive and the level of congestion on the road.

Patrick Jones is executive director of the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association. "Highways, bridges and tunnels in this country are radically underfunded. The federal government has refused to increase the fuel tax since 1993," said Jones. "Many states have refused to increase their fuel taxes. This study attempts to give the Washington region options."

It's called a "Vehicle Miles Traveled" charge. Analysts at Brookings say it's designed to raise between $3 and $4 billion a year for the region, replacing the current gas tax, which only raises approximately $4 million annually.

Triple A Mid Atlantic's Lon Anderson says the fees amount to a fine for drivers. "We urged them to not go forward with this study; it's ludicrous on its face," said Anderson. "There may be some merit in doing some road pricing, but at the rates discussed in this study, it's the equivalent of a $2 to $3 dollars a gallon tax on motorists. It's ridculous!"

The Planning Board hopes to get the plan underway within the decade.

Elliott Francis reports...

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