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Express toll lanes slow to catch on nationwide

Monday - 4/22/2013, 2:04pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Despite a growing number of roads that use tolls to manage congestion, they have not caught on nationwide.

The majority of Americans, 76 percent, say they have never heard of price-managed highways, according to a new survey by HNTB Corporation.

At the same time, people are not opposed to the idea, HNTB's Matthew Click says.

The survey asked people what they would pay to save 15 minutes on their commute, and the response was an average of $5.

Click says one problem may be the transponders needed to use Express Lanes.

"Only 44 percent of them was in favor of signing up for a transponder account," Click says. "We, as an industry, need to do a better job."

Express Lanes are only six months old in the Washington region, but there are 17 similar operations across the country. There are more than 2,500 miles of such lanes in the planning or construction stages, including on Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia.

Price-managed Express Lanes mean the cost of the toll changes based on congestion in the highway. The toll price goes up as the highway gets more congested. They are designed to keep speeds in the Express Lanes at 45 mph.

Among the other findings in the survey:

  • 57 percent would use Express Lanes in a medical emergency

  • 40 percent would use the lanes to get to the airport

  • 36 percent would use the lanes to get to a vacation destination

  • 35 percent would use the lanes for a work-related destination

  • 23 percent said they would use the lanes for a personal destination

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