Last Thursday June 26, our Cascadia Center hosted the West Coast Tolling and Traffic Management Workshop at the Bell Harbor Conference Center on Seattle's waterfront. Speakers came from up and down the West Coast, Washington, D.C. and London to share with a capacity crowd the latest developments in regional tolling policy, tolling and traffic management technology, and transportation public-private partnerships.
First, our own quick-take on the event. Then some handy links to media coverage, and speaker PowerPoints.
Democratic State Senator Ed Murray, a member of the legislative majority in Olympia and the ranking majority member of the Senate Transportation Committee, voiced strong support for public-private partnerships as one important tool to help fund the approximately $50 billion backlog of projects in Central Puget Sound. Sarah Clark of Partnerships BC accented the province's leading role in transportation PPPs.
Murray also reiterated his call for regional transportation governance to unify policy, implementation and decision-making. Seattle City Council Member Jan Drago, like Murray, emphasized that a "systems," or regional approach to looming electronic tolling is essential, to avoid diversions from a tolled highway to an untolled one in the same corridor. Murray stressed that tolling revenue can and should be used to help fund transit.
Gary Gallegos of the San Diego Association of Governments discussed the success of time-variable electronic tolling on I-15 and stressed that far from being "Lexus Lanes" for the rich as some critics contend, the High Occupancy and Toll (HOT) lanes are used by all, because time is money. Art James of the Oregon Department of Transportation provided a valuable and at time humorous, historical look at the cultural resistance of Oregonians to tolling but concluded that the Columbia River Crossing project may prove an exception.
Another take-away - underscored in compelling detail by panelists from CalDOT, WSDOT, Microsoft, Inrix and Booz Allen Hamilton - was that the technology for tolling and traffic management is advancing at a fast pace, increasing the likelihood that tolling will become convenient and widespread in highway corridors; and will make more sophisticated decision-making tools available to drivers for trip timing, routing, and payment.
Full TVW Coverage
Here are video segments of the full proceedings from TVW, Washington's public affairs channel. Moderator was longtime Cascadia Center associate Glenn Pascall, an economist and columnist with the Puget Sound Business Journal.
Luncheon speakers - Mark Aggar, Microsoft; David Horner, USDOT; State Senator Ed Murray; State Rep. Doug Ericksen; Seattle City Council Member Jan Drago.
"Technology Transforming Transportation." Former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton; Jack Opiola, Booz Allen Hamilton, London, U.K.; Bryan Mistele, President and CEO, Inrix, Kirkland, Wash.
State and provincial perspectives - Dick Ford, Washington Transportation Commission; David Dye, WSDOT; Art James, ODOT; Randy Iwasaki and Greg Larson, CalDOT; Sarah Clark, Partnerships BC.
Regional perspectives - Aubrey Davis and Matthew Kitchen, Puget Sound Regional Council; Gary Gallegos, San Diego Association of Governments; Andrew Fremier, Bay Area Toll Authority; Rex Burkholder, Tri-Met (the regional transportation governing body for Portland).
User perspectives - AAA and trucking industry representatives.
(TVW technical and programming notes. The video segments can also be accessed here. They may take a few minutes to download. They should play on PCs and Macs, but if there are issues, you may need an updated version of your video player software - there will be a notice and link to a download page at the bottom of the TVW segment page. You will then need to download and install the recommended video player. To watch the segments on cable TV instead of your computer, check TVW's schedule at their main page. In the upper-left hand corner, under "Schedule" are the current day's and week's schedules and the channel locator.)
Speaker PowerPoints are here.
Media Coverage Links
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's veteran political columnist Joel Connelly gave this report. Several major radio stations covered the workshop. KPLU-FM public radio's Liam Moriarty filed a story titled, "Are Privately Operated Highways In Your Future?" KIRO AM 710's Erin Covey also attended and her reports aired throughout the afternoon, evening and following morning, including KIRO-AM's "The Big Story At Six." The day before the event, Cascadia Center Director Bruce Agnew and Microsoft's Environmental Technologist Mark Aggar were interviewed on KIRO-AM 710's Dave Ross Show about traffic management technology (Aggar); and tolling, transit and public-private partnerships (Agnew).
All conference topics and the latest on plug-in electric hybrid vehicles and alternative energy will be featured at our Sept. 4-Sept. 5 "Beyond Oil: Transforming Transportation" conference at Microsoft's Redmond campus.