HOT Lanes Do Not a Toll Road Make

A look back at a controversy from this month's Virginia State Senate election, which produced some seriously misleading rhetoric about "toll roads" (i.e., the proposal was for HOT lanes, not a toll road).

1 minute read

November 28, 2015, 5:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Dylan Matthews elucidates the details behind a controversy that erupted during the Virginia statewide election earlier this month. Leading up the election, Hal Parrish, the Republican state Senate candidate for Virginia's 29th District, campaigned in opposition to a proposal to add HOT lanes to I-66, which runs from northern Virginia (including Prince William, Manassas, Fairfax, and Arlington) to Washington, DC.

Parrish, who would go on to lose the election, claimed that the HOT lanes would require a $17-a-day toll.

The claim, however, makes several mistakes in assessing how HOT lanes work: neglecting that single-occupancy vehicles are currently prohibited from entering the lanes, and that drivers would essentially be paying a voluntary toll to enter the lane. That's far from a $4,250 annual fee for someone driving the corridor 250 times a year for a work commute.

Although the election that gave rise to what the post calls the "great northern Virginia toll controversy" is now in the past, Matthews's explanation of HOT lanes clarifies the concept in ways that might be helpful in regions yet to consider the idea, and offers an opportunity to survey some of the transportation experts that favor the idea.

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