Toll Roads Take $9 Billion in Losses Nationwide

No one lakes toll roads, but everyone relies on the revenue they generate for all kinds of transportation projects.

2 minute read

July 17, 2020, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Toll Road

George Sheldon / Shutterstock

Luz Lazo reports:

Add another victim to the list of industries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic: toll road operators.

The industry’s losses, which by estimates will exceed $9 billion nationwide, are prompting public and private toll operators to tap their reserves, delay capital projects and cut jobs.

The consequences of the downturn in the toll road business has consequences for other kinds of projects as well: revenue from toll roads is used to finance construction on other projects. While construction projects haven't seen an impact yet in the D.C. area, according to Lazo, operations are already taking a hit, and worse is yet to come. 

The Maryland Transportation Authority said it is not funding vacant positions and is deferring the replacement and purchase of additional equipment such as computers. It has saved money by not funding vacant positions and not renewing 44 temporary toll collection contracts; the state moved to an all-electronic system during the pandemic.

And in Virginia, it's expected that construction will eventually face funding consequences:

In Virginia, lost revenue from the 66 Express Lanes means the corridor is unlikely to yield millions of dollars that would help pay for new bus routes and the construction of new Metro station entrances and bus lanes.

The article includes details about revenue on specific toll roads in the D.C. area as well as locations farther afield, like Pennsylvania, Georgia, and California, in addition to a lot more context and analysis on the effect of the novel coronavirus on toll road revenue.

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