Auto Enthusiasts Want to Block Potential Toll Roads in Arizona

Categories: Travel
hot-lane-utah.jpg
CountyLemonade via Flickr
An example of an HOT lane on Interstate 15 in Utah.


A group of automotive enthusiasts is trying to prevent any roads and highways in the state from becoming toll roads.

Additionally, the proposed ballot initiative submitted by the group targets plans for potential toll lanes on highways, which would allow solo drivers to pay to use the carpool lane.

Such lanes are used in other states, but the Arizona Automobile Hobbyist Council filed an application for an initiative, in an attempt to prevent that from happening here.

The initiative would prevent "existing publicly funded or maintained roadways" from being turned into "any form of toll roads."

The organization has until July 3, 2014, to collect 259,213 signatures in order for the proposal to appear on voting ballots.

The Maricopa Association of Governments has already been studying potential "high-occupancy/toll" lanes, also known as "HOT lanes."

There are a lot of variables involved, like one option to convert the current HOV lanes on Valley highways into HOT lanes, or another option of adding an HOT lane in addition to the existing HOV lane. Also, they have to consider hours of operation, prices, and benefit, among other things.

A pair of researchers at Arizona State University have been studying the issue for some time now, and have a short paper explaining how the lanes, in general, can be beneficial.

It kind of reads like a lengthy SAT question, but check out the basic math, assuming a 25-mile freeway, with one HOV lane being converted into an HOT lane, using average transportation stats from government research:
"The worst congestion in the general-purpose lanes occurs between 5 and 6 p.m., when the flow rate is about 2,600 vehicles per hour (vph) per lane. The capacity of a freeway lane is considerably less at about 2,200 vph per lane. At this flow rate, the travel time on this 25-mile section will be about 60 minutes at an average speed of approximately 25 mph. The corresponding speed and travel time on the HOV lane during this same hour are 70 mph and 21 minutes respectively at a flow rate of about 900 vph. If the value of travel time savings is taken to be $15 per hour (i.e., people are willing to pay a quarter for every minute that is shaved off their travel time), then a $1 toll is worth paying as long as using the HOV (converted to HOT) lane saves the solo driver 4 minutes or more. As soon as the travel time differential between the HOT lane and the general purpose lane falls below 4 minutes, paying the toll and switching to the HOT lane is no longer worth it. Based on this reasoning, after a HOV lane is converted to a HOT lane, the traffic flow between 5 and 6 pm would be redistributed such that the HOT lane carries 2,100 vph and the general purpose lanes carry 2,200 vph per lane. In other words, about 1,200 vehicles have switched from the general purpose lane to the HOT lane and are now paying a toll. The new travel times would be 30 minutes on the HOT lane and 34 minutes on the general purpose lanes. This analysis can be repeated for all hours of the day, keeping in mind that the HOT lane would be operational during the hours of 6- 9 am and 3-7 pm and would be a general purpose lane during all other hours.

Once we add up all of the numbers, here is what we find. The HOT lane conversion on this 25 mile stretch of freeway results in a total daily time savings of 6,800 vehicle-hours or about 1.7 million vehicle-hours annually. Valued at $15 per hour, this time savings may be viewed as being worth $25.5 million annually. This is equivalent to an average time savings of 4 minutes worth $1 for each individual vehicle-trip on this 25 mile stretch of freeway. Meanwhile, the HOT lane itself is generating a revenue of $2,700 per day or $675,000 per year, probably enough to operate and maintain the high-speed electronic toll collection (ETC) systems required of HOT lanes. All of these numbers will get multiplied over depending on the total lane-miles of HOV to HOT lane conversion.
Although it may seem like a good plan to the researchers, there are obviously some issues with it, if a group of people wants Arizona voters to block the plans.

For one, the Maricopa Association of Governments notes on its website that, "Arizona House Bill (HB) 2396, passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Governor Brewer on July 13, 2009, enables the state, through the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), to consider the use of Public-Private-Partnerships (P3) as a tool for financing transportation infrastructure in Arizona."

That means there's a corporation that stands to make money off the proposed HOT lanes.

Here's a brief explanation of the objection to the lanes from the Arizona Automobile Hobbyist Council:
Our purpose is to shine a HUGE light on the fact that some in our legislature are planning with outside interests to bring TOLL ROADS to AZ in the very near future. A toll is just another tax, and we already pay one of the highest state gas taxes to maintain our roads in the country. Our state tax, added to the Federal gas tax, provides plenty of money to maintain our roadway system. The trouble is our government officials looks to the tax for other purposes. The more they tax, the more they spend.
To check out the Arizona Automobile Hobbyist Council's petition, click here.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.



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116 comments
Jerry Kelly
Jerry Kelly

In Sonora a Euro group put a toll road in from Caborca to Santa Ana...still Dort of shitty but then out of the blue they raised the toll to 200 pesos.....crooks

Callan House
Callan House

Once you become an adult and get a car you'll realize it costs way more than the bus already. Registration, emissions, insurance, gas, and don't forget the car itself....

Anthony Harris
Anthony Harris

Put a toll On brewers driveway...and Arpaio...so the answer is NO!!

Jacob Mees
Jacob Mees

Why are we becoming California, that state failed

Ry Gavin
Ry Gavin

I like the part where it "presumably" raises enough money to pay for the electronic toll collection. Net benefit to Arizona taxpayer? Zero.

Joe Bria
Joe Bria

Hell No!! Toll roads plus the high cost of the registrations. Some one is going to be getting real fat off of us

Sean Yeager
Sean Yeager

the roads are toll'ed enough already... theyre called police and dps...

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

They're math doesn't add up.  At 2,600 vph in the 4 non-HOV lanes, those lanes are carrying 10,400 vph.  The HOV lane is already carrying 900 vph and has a capacity of 2,000 vph.  All it takes is a 10% adoption rate and the HOV lane is at or exceeds capacity, causing it to move as slowly as the other lanes and eliminating any value that it may represent to drivers.

Additionally, the purpose served by the HOV is to reduce the number of vehicles on the road by requiring 2 or more people to be in a vehicle in order to use it.  The reality is that most of the vehicles I see in HOV lanes are parents and kids - kids who could not drive themselves separately even if they wanted to.  The whole concept of HOV lanes, in my opinion, is flawed.  If ADOT eliminated the HOV designation and opened the HOV lanes to all drivers, all lanes would average a much more managable 2,200 vph and traffic would move faster generally, thereby eliminating their entire value/time saving calculations.

I would also say that a big cause of the back-up is insufficient lanes in transitions between freeways, particularly the transition from the 101 to the 17 in the north valley.  The foresight to add additional lanes for transition when they built those interchanges would have gone a long way to reducing congestion in the north valley.

Sam Iam
Sam Iam

:) Marty. Maybe she is. ;)

Renee La Tour
Renee La Tour

Yes, might entice ppl to (at least) think about alternative modes for their commute.

Frank Even
Frank Even

Plus in reading their "study" data vs. a lot of real world driving on our highways, I call b.s. We don't have capacity problems at all, we have driver courtesy issues. If the objective is to really make traffic move better, then we need a massive education campaign which involves teaching people basically how to merge into traffic, KEEP RIGHT if going SLOWER than other traffic (if you are not passing someone to the right of you, you're doing it wrong), and some awareness that if you change a lane you should actually be aware if there is someone in that lane or coming up in that lane and you should actually make an attempt to speed up if you are going to change lanes (as your only motivation should be to pass at that point, not "just because you feel like it"). That would solve all of AZ's traffic problems. But the toll proposal doesn't seem interested in solving a traffic problem, but just making money.

Frank Even
Frank Even

NO! Hell NO! We already have too many people on the highway who cannot navigate it causing traffic problems. Imagine how backed up it would be if we put tolls on the highway?! We'd never get anywhere. Do we really want to be like Chicago and other cities, having it take half a day to get anywhere?

Ken Champ
Ken Champ

the fucking roads have been paid for , for years

Gary Waterman
Gary Waterman

If someone wants to build a new road from private funding and then charge a toll for it that's fine. Using an existing road paid for with Federal funds (my tax dollars} and State funds (my tax dollars) and then charging me to drive on it or excluding me from driving on it if I don't is not right.

Marta Kirsch
Marta Kirsch

The key is to have an inflatable dummy in the passenger side. Wait...maybe the dummy is in the drivers side!!

Bill Frain
Bill Frain

not if they're already built w/ taxpayer money. texas has toll roads built by a company. you drive 'em, you pay.

Ali Askari
Ali Askari

WTF?!?! I've lived in AZ for 16 years and you have to be crazy to put tolls. First it was Cameras on the freeway now tolls stop trying to squeeze every damn cent from you're tax payers!

Julie Turek
Julie Turek

oh yeah, let's slow shit down, just what we need. NO WAY. I do not miss that crap from back east.

Jeremy Paul
Jeremy Paul

Hey JJ dingleberry, thats not a translation, its an opinion. Sorry, I just wanted to give you a diffrnt nickname.

Jeremy Paul
Jeremy Paul

Edit:*our belief. Proof reading on this cracked Android phone sucks!

Jeremy Paul
Jeremy Paul

So, I just read the article. I wonder how much money these "researchers" are costing. The way I see it, we beed to stop trying to rationalize and equivicalyze or belief that spending money is the answer to everything. How often does the U.S. spend years and millions of $$ analyzing our way into another problem, when we could have used some patience and a little common "cents"? I heard someone today say, I can solve any problem you have with a bigger problem." I wasnt sure how much sense it made then, but it seems to fit here. Its like big rue said, -"Take back your resistance, or die like a punk."

Jacqueline Aragon
Jacqueline Aragon

NO It's paid for with federal funds, why should we pay twice ;/ js

Jeremy Paul
Jeremy Paul

Tollroads are highway robbery! Haha. You like that? Gimme 30% after you production costs on the signs and tshirts. No, seriously. Id be willing to at least listen to all sides of the ball. Would they help keep sales or property taxes from going up? Would carpoolers, and green-cars get a discount? It would create jobs. I read something from the PNT, I think that suggested this is an alternate option to private financing for roadway projects like the West route of the 202 through South Mountain park, a road to Vegas, and alternate routes to the East side. The article made me think of the mess of roads in cali. Talk about needing work. Whatever we do I hope we dont model it after Southern California. If you want less traffic, plan your trips outside of holiday weekends, combine your errands into one trip, change your daily departure times, carpool (sharetheride.com), ask about compressed work weeks, or telecommuting, write letters to officials and your CEOs repeatedly asking for these things. If they dont make those options available then maybe they should contribute to covering the costs that these tolls are meant for. I have family that uses toll roads near Toledo, and Cleveland. Not sure how they feel about tolls, but I travelled on them and they seemed to be very well maintained and organized. Ok. Im done. G'night!

Tyler Lucas
Tyler Lucas

Pat you cannot be that dumb to think that people can drive around for free. Vehicle tags, gas, vehicle maintanance. All that cost money to drive. Just cause you ride the bus doesnt mean other people arent paying as much as you. Get a clue about how much people have to pay to drive.

Ruben DeClay
Ruben DeClay

Cameras now toll roads... I wish these fair weather patriots would make up their minds

Philip BoVee Mecham
Philip BoVee Mecham

Yes, they should put in toll booths! I mean, it's time for car owners to pay for the use the roads.

Ed Henderson
Ed Henderson

@Bob Conner, the tax expired. The cunt had no choice.

Ed Henderson
Ed Henderson

@Bill Gower, were are said roundabouts? I have never seen one on an AZ freeway... Just sayin

Bob Conner
Bob Conner

btw on the Jan Brewer slams, she was the only person that I'm aware of to take away the 1% sales tax increase . HOW many taxes have been passed to help a cause for " certain amount of time" and then brought back to original tax, I know of none. Don't get me wrong someone somewhere will get it back up again but at least she held to her promise and used the tax for what it was meant for and then cancelled. .

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