Why We Need Express Toll Lanes
New “Express Toll Lanes” (or ETLs) like the ones Virginia and Maryland have completed on sections of I-95, and elsewhere, can dramatically reduce traffic congestion and delays, and provide a reliable funding source to help support long-term transportation improvements in the I-270 corridor. Adding toll lanes to I-270 can increase rush-hour speeds by up to 87% in the northbound lanes in the afternoon; and by up to 70% in the southbound lanes in the morning rush-hour. And they provide a new funding source to redesign and reconfigure what is currently a single-use highway into a modern, efficient, multimodal facility with a combination of:
- “General purpose lanes” like the lanes there now (which would remain free to use),
- New “express toll lanes” (ETLS) to add new capacity and provide an ongoing revenue source to pay for a significant part of the project, and
- High-speed bus-rapid-transit (BRT) using the new dedicated express toll lanes — to add a viable, sustainable, high-quality, and highly cost-effective transit alternative that connects the entire region.
Express Toll Lanes
- Offer an alternative funding strategy for a major upgrade in this corridor, which would not be possible even during the next 30-50 years through current funding sources.
- Offer motorists the option of paying a toll to travel on lanes that are relatively congestion free; or continuing to use the non-toll lanes, which would remain free of charge, but would also be less congested as others choose the new toll lanes.
- Offer transit users reliable travel times using the new dedicated toll lanes.
Maryland Electronic Toll Lanes Initiative
- Add new lanes to the state’s most severely congested major highways (and in some instances, possible combinations of new lanes, converting existing lanes and/or using reversible lanes).
- Apply demand-management techniques to maintain relatively congestion-free travel over time.
- Tolls would be collected electronically at highway speeds via a transponder (no tollbooths)
- Using Maryland’s E-ZPass system, the toll is deducted automatically from a driver’s account.
- Cost of the toll would vary to manage the capacity and maintain efficient travel speeds, based on:
- Time of day – Morning and evening rush hours could cost more based on the need for a congestion-free trip.
- Traffic conditions – rates could increase as traffic conditions worsen; or decrease when there is extra capacity.
Benefits of Express Toll Lanes
Express Toll Lanes provide drivers with the option of paying a fee for something they can count on: more reliable travel times when they need to get where they’re going ON TIME.
- A new viable travel choice for everyone — an alternative to spending valuable time stuck in traffic.
- Travel-time reliability — when predictable travel times are most vital. Those who will benefit include:
- A parent who needs to pick up a child at daycare.
- A delivery company that must stay on schedule throughout the day.
- A service technician working to make more service calls in a day.
- A taxicab or van service driver making trips to and from the airport.
- An employee trying to get to a meeting on time.
- Transit reliability – Access for buses to relatively free-flowing lanes, thereby enhancing the attractiveness of transit.
- Ability to generate revenue directly from users — to help pay for construction, maintenance, and operation of the lanes.
- Ability to provide needed highway lane capacity much sooner than traditional approaches allow — for instance, five to 10 years rather than 15- to 50-year timeframe required with traditional funding methods alone.
- Improved traffic conditions and safety — by reducing traffic congestion and congestion-related accidents.
- Community and environmental benefits —including the potential for reduced impacts of highway expansion and possible air quality improvements from decreased vehicle emissions on less-congested highway lanes.
2015 Traffic Summary Express Toll vs. No-Build