Congestion fees debated in US cities

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Department of Transportation is pushing "congestion pricing" as a key way to address congestion issues, but its Urban Partnership Agreement Program, designed to help localities implement these programs, continues to face opposition at the local level.

A plan to impose congestion pricing on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, for example, has been scrapped by local officials; in its place, commuters who park along the routes leading to the bridge will face higher prices during peak hours.

Under the original proposal, Doyle Drive, an approach road, would have been replaced and other local improvements made using a $158 million federal grant issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation under its Urban Partnership Agreement program, reports the American Trucking Associations.

In return, San Francisco would agree to impose congestion charges on motorists using the bridge during morning and afternoon peak travel periods.

However, local officials, who wanted to charge $1, balked when DOT insisted on a $7 charge. DOT claimed that $1 would not affect motorist behavior enough to reduce congestion. DOT and city officials agreed to revise the program, charging motorists who park along bridge access routes a higher fee if they park during peak periods. In return, the city will receive a smaller federal grant for local transportation improvements.

In April, another plan to impose a hefty charge on all vehicles entering Manhattan during peak weekday hours was rejected by state lawmakers, overruling city lawmakers who initially approved of the idea.

Meanwhile, north of the border, city planners in Toronto have also caught congestion fee fever.

This past spring, Metrolinx, formerly known as the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority, was floating a proposal that would toll vehicles entering the downtown core. The plan also called for truck restrictions during peak traffic hours.


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