Toll Roads, Congestion Pricing Possible in DDOT’s 25-Year Plan

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    NEWSLETTERS

    News4's Mark Segraves reports on tolls and fees drivers may face under a long-range plan to help ease traffic congestion in the District of Columbia. (Published Wednesday, Jun 4, 2014)

    Driving in D.C. could become more expensive if the “Move DC” proposal to ease traffic congestion in the city is put in effect.

    Paying a fee to drive in downtown Washington during busy times or paying a toll to drive on some highways in the city are part of a long-range plan to make getting around D.C. easier.

    The D.C. Department of Transportation’s draft of their 25-year plan includes major changes for the ways we commute in the future. At the rate the population is increasing in D.C., something needs to be done, DDOT said.

    “We feel like we're going to choke on the traffic and congestion that we see coming with those new people,” DDOT Associate Director Sam Zimbabwe said.

    The district's population is expected to grow by 175,000 residents and 200,000 thousand new jobs over the next 25 years, which means a lot more cars on the already crowded roads if something isn't done.

    The proposed plan includes adding 70 miles of new streetcar and bus lines, 200 miles of bike lanes and trails, sidewalks on at least one side of every street, a new downtown Metrorail loop, expanded water taxis, and toll roads and congestion pricing.

    The new fees are what caught many people's attention. The tolls would be on roads like 295, and the congestion pricing, which several European cities already have, would charge single occupancy cars driving downtown during the busiest times of day at a price about the same as riding Metro.

    The idea of paying to have better access to roads in the area is not new.

    “We're starting to see some of these management strategies -- the Beltway HOT lanes, the Intercounty Connector,” Zimbabwe said.

    As for bike lanes, “We don't really anticipate charging bicyclists for the use of those lanes, but if we start to see congestion, if that’s part of the component, then that may be part of it as we go forward.”

    Nothing will happen overnight, and the public will have ample opportunity to weigh in on the changes.