Friday, July 9, 2010

Did     you know?
American loses nearly $87.2 billion every year to congestion.

Minnesota Battles Congestion

In 2005, nine miles of underutilized carpool lanes along Minnesota’s I-394 corridor were converted into toll lanes. Since then, the lanes have accommodated more than 940,000 vehicles every year, and 90 percent of users maintain a very high level of satisfaction.  Passengers in the non-tolled lanes have experienced an increase in speed of about 6 percent. Almost all trips in the tolled lanes cost less than $2.50.

Because of the success of I-394’s conversion, the federal government provided the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation (MnDOT) with a $133 million grant to expand its congestion pricing program to I-35W. The federal grant, known as an Urban Partnership Agreement, was awarded to five cities to test congestion pricing techniques across the country. In order for congestion pricing – a tool that gives people travel choice, reduces congestion, improves mobility, and manages demand along a roadway – to work, it must be coupled with transit investments. Approximately 65 percent of this federal grant was allocated for transit projects along a congested corridor.

MnDOT built two new park-and-ride lots and expanded existing park-and-ride facilities, providing 2,900 new parking spaces for suburban transit riders. Minneapolis tripled its capacity for the number of buses, and reduced travel time by up to 10 minutes into downtown. With funds from the grant, MnDOT purchased 27 new buses and implemented a transit-only left turn lane in one of Minneapolis’ most congested corridors to provide more predictable and quicker rides.

The Chicago region loses $7.3 billion each year in wasted time, fuel and environmental damages due to congestion and is currently exploring congestion pricing on its roadways. Minnesota’s successful implementation of congestion pricing provides a good model for Chicagoland to learn from.

Photo courtesy of Minnesota Dept. of Transportation

For Additional Information:



Local News

The need for speed, study examines congestion pricingDaily Herald “The Metropolitan Planning Council Thursday released details of a draft study commissioned by the Illinois tollway on congestion pricing.”

Chicago gets grants for transit projectsChicago Tribune “Chicago was awarded federal grants totaling more than $35 million to launch two long-planned CTA bus projects aimed at speeding travel through downtown and between the South Side and the Loop.”

Illinois among states ordered to improved rail crossing safetyChicago Tribune “The federal government has ordered Illinois and nine other states to develop plans to reduce the number of accidents at railroad crossings or risk a loss of funding, officials said.”

Chicago-Kansas City Expressway a reality after six-decade effortQuincy Herald Whig “When the final segment opens July 10th, it will complete a Tri-State transportation network that includes two other national corridors: U.S. 36/I-72 from Indiana across Illinois and Missouri to Kansas, and the C-KC.”

Experts warn: Add safety measures for high-speed railChicago Tribune “An increasing number of crashes are likely as the Illinois Department of Transportation reports it is within a couple of years of implementing 110-mph passenger rail service — without any plan to protect pedestrians, according to safety experts.”

Cost of possible projects runs well into billionsChicago Tribune “There are not enough state or federal dollars at present to build new highways, but the tollway possibly could because it funds projects through bond sales backed by toll revenue.”

CTA says cash fares are a roadblock to on-time serviceChicago Tribune “The CTA is moving ahead with plans to accept "smart card" credit cards, debit cards and prepaid cards that are not CTA-issued items such as transit cards, Chicago Cards and 30-day passes.”

World News

Subway on the StreetNew York Magazine “The MTA has a simple, not very expensive ticket for improving how the city gets around: Revolutionize the bus.”

High-speed rail ridership estimate doubtedSan Francisco Chronicle “Ridership forecasts used by the California High Speed Rail Authority to help plan the statewide fast train system are unreliable, according to a UC Berkeley study released Thursday.”

Toll changes may lead to tie-ups on Bay BridgeSan Francisco Chronicle “At the Bay Bridge, the region's busiest span with 280,000 vehicles a day, congestion-priced tolls will be introduced.”

Watery Future for the City of LightNew York Times “The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, announced plans to permanently close a 2-kilometer, or 1.2-mile, stretch of the Left Bank and slowing traffic on the Right Bank. The whole area would be transformed into a ‘pretty urban boulevard.’”

Yearlong Effort Will Add Vans to Transit OptionsNew York Times “Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced a yearlong pilot program that will allow commuter vans to pick up passengers in parts of Brooklyn and Queens with limited access to public transportation or where bus service cuts will take effect next week.”

Divide to conquerEconomist “Signed into law on June 2nd, a comprehensive transport bill divides Georgia into 12 regions, and gives each the power to decide on its own transport projects.”

RTD picks team to be partner for DIA FasTracks lineDenver Post “A private consortium led by the international engineering and construction firm Fluor Enterprises Inc. and Australia's Macquarie Capital Group was selected to build and operate a $2.1 billion portion of FasTracks, including the train to Denver International Airport.”

Solar highwaysRebuilding America’s Infrastructure “ODOT commissioned the nation’s first solar highway project on Dec. 19, 2008, putting renewable energy into the grid to power lights on Interstate 5.”


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