Tampa, Fla.: quash congestion with "pay-as-you-go" lanes

The city is toying with the concept of “managed lanes” for some highways, as well other transportation management ideas like bus rapid transit

Transportation Management News Tampa Bay Online December 08, 2011
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Tampa, Fla., is considering the idea of “managed lanes” on some of its highways in which motorists would pay for an alternative to traffic jams, Tampa Bay Online reported.


Motorists would pay for the speed, convenience, and cost of building and controlling these lanes, which can be designed in numerous ways, with some allowing a combination of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, truck-only lanes, bus lanes, vehicle express lanes and reversible lanes.


The rates would vary between 25 cents to a dollar a mile, depending on congestion. By paying these fees, commuters––drivers as well as bus drivers––would get around congestion and be on their way.


The use of managed lanes in Miami, Minneapolis, San Diego and Seattle and a handful of other U.S. cities is just one transportation management concept under consideration in the Tampa Bay region in a dawning era of limited highway and transportation funding.


Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority 9TBARTA), with funding from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), will report by December 2012 on concepts that can be implemented in two to five years in the seven-county region from Crystal River through Tampa and Sarasota.


Some of the ideas have been around for some time, such as bus rapid transit (BRT) using transit signal priority equipment, express buses, park and ride lots for buses and carpools, and special HOV lanes.


Newer concepts include optimizing roadway shoulders for bus traffic, widening freeways at interchanges to move vehicles around congestion and some form of the sophisticated managed lane concept the Florida Department of Transportation has advanced in south Florida.


Gov. rick Scott and new FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad made it clear in August that despite a $7.9 billion FDOT budget, creative financing alternatives and new concepts are needed.


"The gas tax as a funding source for transportation is not sustainable," Prasad said. "Therefore we must diversify our sources of revenues in order to invest in the state-of-the-art infrastructure for Florida to compete nationally and globally."


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