The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 50-08 [Active (Synthesis)]

Emerging Challenges to Tolling on Managed Lanes
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 5/1/2018 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Tanya M. Zwahlen
Research Agency: Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Principal Investigator: Nick Wood
Effective Date: 10/15/2018
Fiscal Year: 2018

Final Scope
A significant component to recent roadway investment in congested U.S. cities has been price-managed lanes (e.g. high-occupancy vehicle [HOV] conversions, express toll lanes, variable priced lanes, and high-occupancy toll [HOT] lanes). These facilities represent assets with “tolling choice,” which are assets with an adjacent free alternative route, and are separate and distinct from general toll facilities. General toll facilities typically are operated separately from managed lanes, but their policies and practices may influence the implementation of priced managed lanes. In the past decade, over $10 billion in public and private investments have been made in such facilities. However, a number of locations have experienced rising public and political concern that may jeopardize both planned and operational projects. New projects include I-77 Charlotte, I-66 Virginia, I-405 Seattle, I-35 Austin, I-635 Dallas, I-30 Ft. Worth, I-275 Tampa and others. Tolling affects traffic demand and route and mode selection. These facilities may generate revenue to support capital and operational costs. Techniques to manage toll rates, promote benefits to users including carpoolers and transit, address equity and balance competing goals have been challenging for agencies to implement and for the public and policy makers to understand.
Challenges may include a lack of consistent performance metrics among transportation agencies and this may play a role in undermining public support. For example, the impacts to carpoolers on HOT lanes following conversion from HOV-only use is not fully understood. Levels of demand on severely congested corridors may be so large that the toll needed to manage demand may be unsustainable, and the goal of operational management may be forsaken when policymakers limit toll rates and users fail to see benefits. Additionally, pricing strategies, equity issues and operational knowledge gaps create barriers to implementation and post-implementation problems. Worse, public controversy about tolling in any form may be preventing new projects from proceeding. The role that media and social media play in public perception of pricing projects is not well understood.
The objective of this synthesis is to identify challenges transportation agencies are confronted with related to system management issues, local experience, and messaging consistency. The synthesis will document strategies and tactics employed, lessons learned, and key success factors.
This synthesis will compile available information from project sponsors and operators for the 30 plus price-managed lane facilities. The surveyed agencies will include public private partnerships (PPP), publicly operated, and new capacity, and converted facilities.  Information to be gathered will include but not be limited to:
  • Stated and achieved project goals
  • Performance metrics and operational standards
  • Issues and strategies to address concerns (e.g. regional network traffic diversion, transit integration, mode choice, time shifting of trips, social justice and geographic equity issues, price management controls, legislative action, enforcement)
  • Agency understanding of political and social roadblocks to implementation  
  • The differing roles in communicating “tolling choice” by the media and local, state and federal stakeholders
Information will be gathered through an international literature review and a survey of U.S. transportation agencies with active, proposed or previously proposed price-managed lanes. For locations involving operational and terminated projects, at least six case examples will be developed from interviews with state DOTS and local/regional agencies that outline steps taken to address the tolling issues and enforcement policies raised and effectiveness of such actions.
Information Sources:
  • Recent inventories of projects being tracked by the TRB Managed Lanes Committee and TRB Congestion Pricing Committee, and the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA)
  • NCHRP Report 835: Guidance for Implementing Managed Lanes (2016) and NCHRP Web-Only Document 224: Research Supporting the Development of Guidelines for Implementing Managed Lanes
  • NCHRP Report 237: Environmental Justice Analyses When Considering Toll Implementation or Rate Changes (web only)
  • FHWA Priced Managed Lane Guide (2013)
  • Independent project evaluations
  • Various documents generated from the FHWA HOV/Managed Use Lane Pooled Fund Study consortium
  • Media reports


TRB Staff

Tanya Zwahlen , 2018, Washington, DC
Phone: 585-315-1834 

Meeting Dates
First Panel:  October 15, 2018, Washington, DC
Teleconference with Consultant: December 6, 2018
Second Panel: June 25, 2019

Topic Panel
John R. Easterling, IV, Florida DOT
Jennifer Foley, Michigan DOT
Matthew Fowler, Georgia DOT
Chuck Fuhs, Chuck Fuhs LLC
Amitai Lipton, Massachusetts DOT
Jonathan R. Peters, The City University of New York
Brian J. Walsh, Washington State DOT
Greg Jones, Federal Highway Administration

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