Author Topic: Toll It and They Will Come?  (Read 7019 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Toll It and They Will Come?
« on: August 24, 2011, 03:12:33 AM »
Toll It and They Will Come?



In one of the most amazing public policy statements that I can ever recall reading, State Transportation Secretary Annanth Prasad acknowledged - as reported in the Florida Times-Union on Aug. 22 - that "gas tax financing of roads is not sustainable, and tolls will be the first choice for financing all new capacity and major bridge replacements in Florida."



Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2011-aug-toll-it-and-they-will-come

dougskiles

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2011, 07:49:10 AM »
Wonderful editorial, Milt!  Hopefully this will circulate far and wide.

jcjohnpaint

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2011, 08:06:23 AM »
Lets hit reset and do this again the right way.  Great article. 

tufsu1

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2011, 08:25:36 AM »
I agree...nice editorial....but forget the issues of the outer beltway, toll roads in general, and/or new urbanism for a minute.

The main reasons the gas tax are not sustainable are two-fold.

1. We are making more fuel-efficient cars.....the Big 3 just agreed w/ the administration to raise CAFE standards to average 55 mpg by 2025....while that is a good thing overall, it means less gas tax revenue

2. The Federal gas tax is $0.19 per gallon and has been since 1993....so unlike a typical sales tax, it is not a percentage of the total and is thus not indexed to inflation....which means every year yields less and less buying power.

Guess how much the average American pays in gas taxes for the "right" to drive on all these roads.....around $10-$15 per month!

Now, compare that with your garbage collection fees, water bill, electric bill, cable bill, phone bill, etc.

The answer to financing transportation overall is to institute user fees....be that in the form of tolls...or maybe a Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) tax, which could be collected at the pump every time you fill up. 

Just look at airports...we all pay facility taxes (added to our fares) for flying in and out of airports....and, as you've probably noticed by all the gleaming new terminals, airport authorities seem to be doing pretty well.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 08:30:20 AM by tufsu1 »

Garden guy

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2011, 08:39:52 AM »
Again...our leaders, which for this state mean a huge amount of republicans.. making idiot decisions for us. Is'nt this just another tax for a road that already exists? To me this also screams developer involvement...i can see huge sprawl with this bs...

tufsu1

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2011, 08:44:57 AM »
Now...as for the Branan Field-Chafee Expressway (BFCX) itself....

The road has been on maps since the mid-1970's.....and has been analyzed as a toll road for at least 10 years.

The Outer Beltway showed up somewhere in the late 1990's....and as north miami has opined in many posts, it may very well have been drawn up by development interests in southern Clay County....but it also fit neatly into FDOT's plans, as they knew there was no money to replace the existing Shands Bridge....so hey, why not just extend the expressway, connect it around to I-95, toll it, and thereby have the revenue stream needed to afford a new bridge!

So....then Florida's Turnpike Enterprise (a subset of FDOT) looked at the project.....in order to float bonds, they are required to complete investment-grade toll feasibility studies....in the case of the Outer Beltway (the whole 45 mile thuing), I believe the numbers didn't work....so they turned to the private sector in the hopes that it would be willing to build the road.

But the private sector came back and said no thanks, this thing is too long, too costly, and therefore too risky....so FDOT decided to re-examine the feasibility of the smaller 15 mile road.....having done some traffic forecasting in this area myself, it does seem possible to me that the BFCX could get enough traffic to cover its costs over time.

Now, FDOT has built some toll roads in the past that are still being subsidized today (like the Polk Pkwy and Suncoast Pkwy)...they can do that because the mainline Turnpike makes a good profit, especially in south FL (those folks hate subsidizing road projects in central FL).

Bottom line....whether we like the road or not is somewhat immaterial....if we're worried about it potentially being a boondoggle, the question people should be asking the FDOT/Turnpike Enterprise is show us the feasibility study for this road.

tufsu1

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2011, 09:21:10 AM »
well, in the past, the gas tax did pay for all roads....it just isn't sustainable going forward because maintenance costs are rising and revenues are declining.

until a few short years ago, the Federal Transportation Trust Fund was solvent....and in fact, Congress regularly took from it to plug other holes.

btw, gas tax revenues also go to transit systems as well as enhnacement (bike/ped) projects....got a clue how much subsidy goes into the aveage transit trip?
« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 09:37:45 AM by tufsu1 »

cline

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2011, 09:22:43 AM »
Quote
In one of the most amazing public policy statements that I can ever recall reading, State Transportation Secretary Annanth Prasad acknowledged - as reported in the Florida Times-Union on Aug. 22 - that "gas tax financing of roads is not sustainable, and tolls will be the first choice for financing all new capacity and major bridge replacements in Florida."

Well hopefully this puts the nail in the coffin in the argument that suburban sprawl pays for itself, or (my personal favorite, considering the imperious statements from certain planners on this subject) that automobile users pay for all of the roads with this gas tax.


I think we're all aware that the gas tax doesn't come anywhere close to covering the true costs of road building and maintaince.  As TUFSU pointed out above user fees (VMT tax or something of the like) are going to have to be implemented.  I think that once people started paying a user fee for roads (which would be far higher than what we pay in gas taxes now) they would be much much more inclined to look towards other transit modes.

Garden guy

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2011, 09:46:59 AM »
Quote
In one of the most amazing public policy statements that I can ever recall reading, State Transportation Secretary Annanth Prasad acknowledged - as reported in the Florida Times-Union on Aug. 22 - that "gas tax financing of roads is not sustainable, and tolls will be the first choice for financing all new capacity and major bridge replacements in Florida."

Well hopefully this puts the nail in the coffin in the argument that suburban sprawl pays for itself, or (my personal favorite, considering the imperious statements from certain planners on this subject) that automobile users pay for all of the roads with this gas tax.


I think we're all aware that the gas tax doesn't come anywhere close to covering the true costs of road building and maintaince.  As TUFSU pointed out above user fees (VMT tax or something of the like) are going to have to be implemented.  I think that once people started paying a user fee for roads (which would be far higher than what we pay in gas taxes now) they would be much much more inclined to look towards other transit modes.

or people will use roads that aren't fee for use...maybe we need to be talking about stopping all of the effing building of roads...we have empty homes and neighborhoods galore..stop the expanding and be a city...we are allowing developers decide where we go...not really the people..with enough money any area of our state can be ruined by new roads that are completely unneeded...it's getting rediculous...our population isn't growing enough for this bs. i'd call for a moratorium on all road building in the state for 15 years and let everything settle in...we are getting too big for our britches...just c country boys opinion. I mean if we know the money is'nt going to be there...shouldn't we try to control what growth does happen

Dashing Dan

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2011, 09:47:45 AM »
Coming out of WWII there were a few good reasons for the feds to make cheap land into land that would be suitable for massive amounts of new development. 

Many of our road building friends are still thinking the same way.
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.  - Benjamin Franklin

cline

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2011, 09:54:57 AM »
Quote
or people will use roads that aren't fee for use


With a user fee there would be no fee-free roads.  You would pay just for driving, regardless of what road you were on.

But I'm with you on the cutting back of road building however, the road building lobby has a very powerful voice.  And as Dan mentioned, there are lots of them that want to continue building them.

thelakelander

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2011, 10:04:13 AM »
But the private sector came back and said no thanks, this thing is too long, too costly, and therefore too risky....so FDOT decided to re-examine the feasibility of the smaller 15 mile road.....having done some traffic forecasting in this area myself, it does seem possible to me that the BFCX could get enough traffic to cover its costs over time.

Here's where the math gets fuzzy, imo.  I assume the traffic forecast would anticipate that new development created by expanding the road would account for a signficant portion of traffic increases.  We all know that sprawl rarely pays for itself, which means the general public will most likely be on the permanent hook future school, fire, police, library facility construction, vehicles that come with them and the salaries and pensions of those employed to work at them.  However, this hidden cost isn't factored into the numbers that are needed to justify the road construction.

Secondly, who typically pays for the new roads or expanded local roads needed to feed cars to the new expressway?  For example, this particular segment of the Outer Beltway would work much better if College Drive were extended west from Blanding to Oakleaf.  However, that's probably a $100 million expense that no one has addressed at this point.  All in all, smoke and mirrors, imo.
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cline

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2011, 10:16:31 AM »
But the private sector came back and said no thanks, this thing is too long, too costly, and therefore too risky....so FDOT decided to re-examine the feasibility of the smaller 15 mile road.....having done some traffic forecasting in this area myself, it does seem possible to me that the BFCX could get enough traffic to cover its costs over time.

Here's where the math gets fuzzy, imo.  I assume the traffic forecast would anticipate that new development created by expanding the road would account for a signficant portion of traffic increases.  We all know that sprawl rarely pays for itself, which means the general public will most likely be on the permanent hook future school, fire, police, library facility construction, vehicles that come with them and the salaries and pensions of those employed to work at them.  However, this hidden cost isn't factored into the numbers that are needed to justify the road construction.

Secondly, who typically pays for the new roads or expanded local roads needed to feed cars to the new expressway?  For example, this particular segment of the Outer Beltway would work much better if College Drive were extended west from Blanding to Oakleaf.  However, that's probably a $100 million expense that no one has addressed at this point.  All in all, smoke and mirrors, imo.

Unfortunately this is a reality that that travel demand model doesn't necessarily address.  Its traffic projections are based on population growth so while you may be able to pull off a toll feasibility study that shows enough traffic in which you can make enough money actually construct the road itself, there are many other ancillary costs associated with building the road that are not accurately accounted for.  So FDOT (Turnpike Enterprises, etc.) can say "look, we can generate enough tolls to pay for this road so we're good to go" however, they're not the ones that are left on the hook to pay the schools and roads and other stuff that you mentioned that will come along with this road. 

The proponents of the road (outer beltway) need to look at this road and ask themselves:  Do we want more sprawl and, if so, how are we going to pay for this sprawl?  Unfortunately in the case of the outer beltway I think the only proponets are a handful of wealthy land owners that will make millions off of this thing leaving the tax payers to clean up the mess down the road.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 10:22:56 AM by cline »

Ocklawaha

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2011, 10:46:57 AM »
I think at this point I only support one major road expansion project in Florida. I'm hoping the pavement crazed asphalt addicts in Tallahassee, quickly fill in all of the available medians and excess space along I-4 between Orlando and Tampa. Hopefully this would have the effect of shutting down our rush for 'national high speed rail suicide' occurring in Central Florida. Forcing a more logical corridor service on the CSX complimented by a wider improved I-4 and we finally obtain highwaytopia.  ;)

OCKLAWAHA

thelakelander

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Re: Toll It and They Will Come?
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2011, 10:55:30 AM »
Don't worry.  HSR is dead in that corridor for at least another generation.  Hopefully, Amtrak will take advantage of Rick Scott's decision to lobby for an statewide corridor service similar to what's offered in California.  Unfortunately, it won't really work as a decent alternative to that specific area's congestion issues on I-4.  The CSX corridor too far off from I-4 anchors/destinations outside of DT Orlando and Tampa to be a viable commuting option for those not heading to the central cities (which happens to be most) but it makes sense on a larger statewide level and would be a boost to the old downtown districts of the sprawling network of bedroom communities between the big boys.
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