HOT Lanes Getting Started Up

Gr2007091000094Today's Washington Post article announcing that work on the N. Virginia HOT lanes will start up early next year is bound to create a lot of "traffic" here, on other blogs and in forums of all types. I think it's great that so many people are really thinking about how to deal with the undeniable problem of traffic congestion in the DC area. And clearly there are differing opinions, which--at least here on the CommuterPage blog--I hope we can express with mutual respect and thoughtfulness.

Problems with traffic congestion are not unique to Washington. One of the great things about our big ol' US of A is that we are big; we have 50 states; we have scores of metropolitan areas. What that means is that we can try different things in different places and learn from those experiences. I'm sure that other metro areas will be watching to see what happens here. "But I don't wanna be the guinea pig," I can hear from some. That's NIMBYism writ large: put it somewhere else; let someone else try it first; make them pay for it. . . .Take that attitude universal and nothing ever happens anywhere at all.

Is this model perfect? I doubt it. Should we allow private ownership of a public good? There's definitely28hotlanes_md some validity to that point. Will the new HOT lanes be completely fair for all users? It's impossible to be completely fair (and definitions of fair are not even consistent). Will the money get inappropriately used, politicized or even wasted somehow? Um. . .this is DC. Do we need to do something? Absolutely.

I'm excited to see our leaders taking action on something innovative and even controversial with the potential for some real gains. If only they would take a similar attitude towards the tunnel in Tyson's corner--bold and innovative instead of trapped in a bureaucratic morass. Maybe that's the real lesson of these HOT lanes. Look how fast they went from crazy idea to implementation. And how long have we been pursuing that rail line?

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