When the Road Price Is Right: Land Use, Tolls, and Congestion Pricing

Published March 2013

Imagine living and working in American metropolitan areas 20 years from now:

  • Will the Interstate Highway System be converted to toll roads, making expressway travel available only for an extra charge?
  • Will the government send you a monthly bill charging for every mile you drive?
  • Will the stress of being stuck in congestion on highways be a thing of the past?
  • Will the new toll roads, charges per mile of driving, and the option for congestion-free highway travel change how people think about land use? Will they change where people want to live? Locate a business? Shop and recreate?

Tolling is being increasingly used in the United States to pay for new and revitalized transportation infrastructure and to provide road users with a reliable, congestion-free trip. When the Road Price is Right: Land Use, Tolls, and Congestion Pricing presents the results of workshops and interviews conducted with more than 35 land use and transportation experts who were asked how tolling and congestion pricing will interact with land use.

This report also features five brief case studies that illustrate the policy options for managing travel reliability, traffic volume, travel speeds, and revenue targets and for integrating tolling and transit service. They also explore how these new tolled facilities are being coordinated with land use and development. The five case study highways are:

  • I-95 Express Lanes, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, Florida
  • I-15 Express Lanes, San Diego, California
  • US 36 Bus Rapid Transit/Managed Lanes Project, Colorado
  • Intercounty Connector, Maryland
  • State Highway 130 Extension, Austin-San Antonio Corridor, Texas

The report concludes that the potential for these new types of tolling to influence land use is real. These new types of tolling, moreover, have the potential to interact with land use in ways that support growing market preferences for development in compact, mixed-use, walkable nodes. Achieving this objective, however, will require careful coordination with land use policies and other transportation services, include transit service. By paying attention now—through framing the issues for policy discussions, future research, and the development of best practices—Americans can more fully realize the potential opportunities to tie these new transportation choices to desired land use outcomes.

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Table of Contents

Part 1: Shifting Approaches to Collecting Revenue from Transportation

  • Taxes on Motor Fuels: A Declining Revenue Source
  • Technology Breathes New Life into Tolling
  • Connections between Land Use and How to Pay for Roads
  • From Free Roads to Tolled Roads
  • Conclusion

Part 2: Land Use and Tolls, VMT Taxes, and Congestion Pricing

  • Introduction to the ULI Thought Experiment
  • Metropolitan Development Trends
  • Two Scenarios: Value Pricing on Managed Lanes
  • Three Scenarios: Increased Tax Rates and Tolls
  • Conclusion

Part 3: Conclusions for Today’s Decision Makers

  • A Broader Look at Toll Roads
  • Transportation Revenue Mechanisms and Equity
  • Implications for Developers, Planners, and Researchers
  • Conclusion


  • List of Participants
  • Special Thanks

The ULI Infrastructure Initiative gratefully acknowledges the Rockefeller Foundation for its support of this report and related activities.

2 comments on “When the Road Price Is Right: Land Use, Tolls, and Congestion Pricing

  1. Pingback: Toll Roads: The Route to Redevelopment? - Urban Land Magazine

  2. Pingback: Annals of Motordom – 71: Tolling the Present … Predicting the Future … Measuring the Moment | Price Tags

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