Eventually We’ll Need Congestion Charges Too

Photo from NYTimes.

The seemingly impossible appears to be imminent in New York City: Congestion pricing is coming to Manhattan. Inspired by working systems in cities like London and Singapore, Gotham will designate a large portion of lower Manhattan for the program. During rush hour, it will cost some (as of yet undetermined) fee to drive a car into the zone. The proceeds of the program will be directed to transit improvements.

Congestion pricing has worked well before, and hopefully it will work well in New York. This would set a good precedent for future programs in the U.S. Because ultimately it is the only genuinely effective tool to cut congestion. And someday we will have to import some form of it to DC.

With only a handful of river crossings, traffic volume is concentrated at these connections. Between Key Bridge, and the traffic that comes along Canal Road (either from Chain Bridge or Maryland) Georgetown is one of the main sites of concentration on this diurnal process.

We cannot build our way out of this. There’s no room for more lanes. And adding lanes only allows for more sprawl development further out, which quickly consumes the added space. No signal timing will solve M St. gridlock. The only thing that will bring significant and lasting improvements is to toll our roads enough to decrease demand. Everything else is bound to fail eventually.

The problem will keep getting worse, but we’re not ready for the solution yet. That’s why New York must succeed. Then other cities must follow. Then it will be time for a conservative (transportation planning-wise) mid-sized city like DC to take the plunge.

Not yet, but soon.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Eventually We’ll Need Congestion Charges Too

  1. Jason Meath

    I never wanted to comment on some of your more inane suggestions, but gotta tellya – this is a crazy policy. I drive downtown all the time and it’s FINE. Stop trying to force your liberal, weird policies on people who actually like to live nice lives in this city and drive cars. If you try and push back that you’re not doing that you are lying. And by the way, I have many friends who use these ridiculous “bike lanes” and they all say their doctors say it’s all a matter of time when you’re hit. I’ve witnessed it first hand. I like you’re blog a lot. You do a lot of nice things. But please spare us your politics.

  2. He is not “forc[ing his] liberal, weird policies” on anyone. He is simply stating the inevitable. This is not political, it is practical. Our bridges are deteriorating and this would be a viable revenue stream to preserve them; as well as providing resources for other traffic solutions. Get real and chill.

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