Express toll lanes (ETL), and other types of priced managed lanes, have become popular in our larger urban regions, engendering support from the traveling public and elected officials alike. This continues to be the biggest growth area in the toll industry market, and is becoming an important segment in the P3 concession community as well. From a policy perspective, there are a lot of reasons to build tolled express lanes. But the best one may lie in the increasingly accepted axiom that “we can’t continue to build our way out of congestion.” If this is true, then it makes sense to create and preserve a portion of new capacity that will always be free-flowing; managed through pricing, that will always be available to drivers “when they really need it.” That’s exactly what managed lanes do, and it may be the best policy justification of why new capacity should be priced; rather than simply “added”.
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