Congestion relief gets new funds

FHWA awards $9.7 million in grants to encourage innovative strategies

News U.S. DOT August 02, 2010
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California, Florida, North Carolina, Minnesota, Texas, Virginia and Washington received grants for 10 projects under the Federal Highway Administration's Value Pricing Pilot Program (VPPP).

“These projects show that states are developing new ways of thinking about how to manage congestion,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

“Money from this program continues to support innovative solutions that will provide better results for the American people. Ultimately, people will be able to spend more time doing what they like and less time stuck in traffic,” Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said.

“Value pricing” refers to varying price levels by time of day or traffic volume in order to manage congestion. It can significantly improve traffic flow by encouraging people to choose to drive at different times of the day, thereby spreading out demand and reducing congestion at peak hours.

Some of the grants include:

* $1.9 million for the Texas Department of Transportation to test a pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) insurance plan that allows drivers to buy insurance by the mile;

* $1.8 million for the California Department of Transportation and the city of Berkeley to implement a parking pricing plan that includes real-time information on available spaces; and

* $900,000 for south Florida to develop a priced-lanes network in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area that will improve the travel reliability for commuters, including transit and carpool users.

The VPPP was initially authorized in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) as the Congestion Pricing Pilot Program and renewed with the passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). For more than a decade, the program has supported over 70 projects in 15 states to improve travel through pricing.

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