This isn’t exactly a balanced article—but since its biases match mine, it’s great! Portland Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder is proposing a congestion charge for the Columbia River Crossing:
Burkholder believes congestion pricing for some busy roads could manage roads for highest productivity; cut pollution, fuel use, CO2 and congestion; and generate revenue for public transportation and high-performance transportation infrastructure and services.
I think that congestion pricing should be on the table, regardless of whether the Columbia River Crossing is rebuilt. So it’s heartening to see the idea gaining currency.
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I am starting to wonder, though, if the price of gas is starting to take a bite out of congestion all by itself. Here’s a map of Puget Sound traffic from yesterday at the height of rush hour—with uncongested lanes in all but a few spots on the region’s highways. I know it’s summer, but I haven’t seen the Seattle roads so clear, and traffic moving so smoothly since…well, since they closed off big chunks of I-5 last summer.
Remember that, when lane restrictions were supposed to cause massive gridlock all the way down to Tacoma? The congestion never materialized—traffic, in fact, was a breeze, and commutes were the best that many people had ever experienced. To me, that proved that people can adjust their travel habits, if they’re given the right kind of information and incentives—a lesson that I think the Columbia River Crossing planners would be smart to keep in mind.