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Will Americans Ever Embrace Congestion Pricing?

<p>Though the idea of congestion pricing has won over many planners and officials, as the failed proposal in New York shows, many members of the driving public are far more comfortable with sitting in traffic than paying tolls or riding transit.</p>
April 14, 2008, 2pm PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"Should you have to pay to drive on the Capital Beltway -- and on Interstate 270, the George Washington Memorial Parkway and all the bridges that cross the Potomac?

Many economists would say yes. The Bush administration would agree. A federally funded study completed last week lays out how much revenue such a tolling system would generate and how much it could reduce traffic congestion.

But if you don't like the idea, don't fire off any angry e-mails just yet. "Road pricing," long the arcane province of a few academics, has become technically feasible and politically at least not unmentionable. But it still generates tremendous suspicion and opposition, and not along the usual left-right dividing lines.

Just ask Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City. He assembled a coalition of environmentalists, business groups, subway riders and others to back what he called "congestion pricing," an $8 fee he would have charged anyone driving downtown during business hours. The Bush administration offered a $354 million incentive -- or bribe, to opponents -- to be used for public transit if the plan was adopted. But Democrats in the New York legislature killed the proposal a week ago."

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Published on Monday, April 14, 2008 in The Washington Post
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