Tomorrow's Washington Post has a story by Lyndsey Layton on proposals by Maryland officials to construct express toll lanes to relive congestion on important highways.
"...Express toll lanes are special lanes added to highways that allow motorists to pay their way out of traffic jams. Motorists in an express toll lane pay a fee that is automatically deducted through an electronic reader as their car or truck moves along at highway speeds, similar to the way E-ZPass works.
The price would change with the degree of congestion, so that a premium is charged when the rest of the roadway is especially crowded but the toll drops as the highway empties. On State Road 91 in Southern California, one of the earliest examples of this relatively new trend, express lane tolls range from $1 to $6.25, depending on the traffic in the adjoining free lanes..."
The article notes changing attitudes toward toll roads:
"...Public opinion about toll lanes is shifting. The idea of "congestion pricing," or charging motorists for using limited road space, has been around since the 1960s. But public policymakers long thought it was political suicide to begin charging motorists for something they were used to getting for free, and the idea carries the unappealing label of "Lexus lanes."
In the mid-1990s, toll lanes in California and Texas opened, and subsequent studies showed they were used by motorists of all income levels, usually when people needed to get somewhere in a hurry. They gained support among motorists who didn't use the lanes regularly but saw them as a way of diverting vehicles from the regular lanes..."